Friday night, as the line for Kris Bowers curved corners, my heart sank. After an hour drive, and months of being hyped, it looked like I wasn’t going to see my latest musical fave. There was about to be a problem.
I forget when I discovered Heroes & Misfits. But, I know that the first time I listened to Kris Bowers there was a “Yasss” feeling in my soul. After months of listening to his album on repeat and checking You-tube videos, I decided I needed to see him live. Searching for concert dates, I could only find shows in New York. Would I have to wait until the next time I couch-surfed through Harlem and Brooklyn to see the LA-native live?
When I found out he would be in town with Jose James at SF Jazz, I convinced my girls to buy tickets and hit the city with me. Note: I’m not really one for going to the city. But, if I needed to cross some water to hear Jose sing “Heaven on the Ground” and to see Kris show off the skills that won him the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, then so be it.
The show was awesome. My girls had stepped out on faith and I introduced them to some music they could rock with. They then stood in line with me so I could get autographs and take pictures with Jose and Kris. I told Bowers that I was there to see him as much as I was there to Jose. He told me that he had a show coming up in the area. I was hyped until he said it was in San Jose. “Oh, that’s kinda far.”
But, Friday night I was front and center at the San Jose Jazz Fest. The night before, I’d trekked to Sacramento with a classmate to see Snarky Puppy. There was a theme developing here: I will travel for music.
We were sure to hit up the Jazz Beyond Stage so I could see Gizmo. Talk about a good move. His cover of “Somebody” by Kings of Leon had me in a zone and in some feelings. And he went from saying he could use somebody to wanting to dance with somebody, somebody who loved him. Yes. He did that. And it worked perfectly. When Gizmo sang “White Walls,” I sang along like my heart was newly broken. (Note: Gizmo is opening for Jose James at The New Parish in September)
They kicked all of us out after Gizmo’s show so they could turn the stage over. I didn’t make much of it because there were bars around. My girl and I grabbed Long Island Iced Teas during the break. When we returned, there was a line. The issue wasn’t that I didn’t want to stand in line (I didn’t want to, I never want to, but I will for music I love). The problem was that I’d already been inside and I knew damn well, all the folks in front of me would not fit inside that venue. Panic set in. I was not going to the end of the line. I was not going to miss him. “You should tweet Kris,” my girl said. I laughed and pulled out my phone. I was not above telling him how I voyaged from Oakland. Or being like, “Remember me? I tweeted about you, let me in!” Comedy. I know. Before I could explain myself in 140 characters, we saw a couple of girls from the Gizmo set. “Hi, friends!” We were in there.
When the first notes for his cover of “Rigamortis” by Kendrick Lamar dropped, I grabbed my girl’s arm. We were really in here. The show was great. Julia Easterlin wowed the crowd with her cover of “Toxic” by Britney Spears. Kris spazzed on the keys just like I imagined he would. The entire band felt the music and in turn the crowed was moved. I didn’t snap many photos or capture any video. I grooved. Swaying, stomping, clapping. I yelled a few encouraging words. Witnessing Heroes + Misfits live is just a different experience. I love the album even more now. Watching the band play made me want to learn an instrument, if only so I could better describe the awesomeness and complexity of what I was hearing.
We waited around after the show. My phone was dead so I couldn’t get a pic, but I still wanted to tell Kris I’d made it and the show was worth drive.
I had that “Yasss” feeling in my soul again.
It’s also worth noting that Kris Bowers has a collaboration with Oakland singer Chris Turner on Heroes + Misfits called “Wander-Love.” To give you a taste of what they sound like together, take a listen to this sweet, sad, and soulful live rendition of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” performed at Bohemian Caverns.