George Watsky, born and raised in San Francisco, made sure to pull “out all the stops” to give Bay Area fans two very special performances at the Regency Ballroom last weekend.

Because the shows were being tracked for a new live concert album, the two nights were distinctly different, both in terms of sets and also overall feel. The Regency Ballroom was completely sold out for the Friday show, contributing to the almost festival-like feel. The Saturday show, in contrast, had a slightly smaller crowd, with the upstairs being completely closed off to regular attendees. However, this led a much more intimate feeling for the night, as if it had been one of Watsky’s earlier shows at a much smaller venue.

Anderson Paak (aka Breezy Lovejoy) and Crème Fraiche (the live band that accompanies Watsky on tour) were present both nights, while Kyle and Dumbfoundead (aka Parker) joined the Friday show and Kate Nash and Grieves for Saturday’s. Furthermore, the shows each featured a myriad of special guest appearances.

Paak, who produced Watsky’s latest album, opened both nights, showcasing his smooth vocals and great stage presence. His Friday set was certainly more active than his Saturday one, with plenty of pelvic thrusting to go around on Friday. However, Watsky made an early appearance during Paak’s Saturday set, jumping onto stage during the closing song “Drugs,” sating the crowd’s anticipation, if only slightly. In turn, Paak returned to stage later as a support vocalist for most of the second night.

Next on Friday came Dumbfoundead, along with DJ Zo, opening with crowd favorite “Korean Jesus.” After a few songs he was joined by Mike B, another rapper from K-town, for “Untouchable,” a collaboration they released back in 2013. Anderson Paak returned to the stage for one of his collaborative tracks with Dumbfoundead, “Cellphone.”

The next act for the Friday show was Kyle, a rapper based out Ventura, CA. Before Kyle came onstage, Brick, with his fantastic haircut, spent about 10 minutes hyping up the crowd with some explosive jumps, heavy beats, and multiple crowd surfs. When Kyle finally arrived, he announced to the crowd that he had come to do only one thing: “to turn the f*** up!” With lots of jumping, some choreographed dancing, and literal “crowd surfing” with a boogie board, Kyle’s high energy set definitely set the tone for the rest of the night.

In contrast, Kate Nash provided a break from the hip hop on Saturday with her more rock and pop influenced tracks. After mentioning that she partook in her first Thanksgiving with tofurkey after moving to LA, she went straight into “Free My Pussy” with some fantastic meowing and guitar shredding on her part. Kate Nash rocked the house on Saturday.

The other opening act for Saturday, Grieves, label mates with performers such as Atmosphere and Brother Ali, also contrasted with Friday’s show. Gone were the stage dives and crowd surfs from the previous night courtesy of Kyle; instead, they were replaced with blues-inspired vocals and a wonderful keyboard accompaniment. The lyrics to his closing song “Lightspeed” seemed to capture the essence of his set:

You need to slow down
every once in a while sometimes
you’ll see how the world goes around

Watsky opened with “Bet Against Me” both nights to a roaring crowd. Extensive (and quite impressive) drum solos by Crème Fraiche drummer Chukwodi Hodge; and special performances of “Freight Train” by bassist Kush Mody, who also produced Watsky’s last album, and Paak were common to both shows, but besides these threads, Watsky’s sets differed between nights.

Following “Freight Train” during Friday’s show, Paul Watsky, George Watsky’s father and veteran poet, read two original poems onstage, selected especially by the younger Watsky for that night’s show. Concluding his readings, Paul was greeted with thunderous applause. His appearance was especially fitting, as George has mentioned numerous times that his latest album is a tribute to his parents with a picture of a younger Paul Watsky appearing on the cover.

Paul Watsky

Paul Watsky

Guitarist Pat Dmirti played an amazing guitar solo during “Tiny Glowing Screens Pt. 1” on Saturday. He was then joined by Kate Flay, another Bay Area rapper, who has collaborated with Grieves in the past.

Besides special appearances, the shows were full of firsts. On Friday, Watsky performed “Everything Turns Gold,” from his debut album, for the first time on stage. During the middle of “Strong as an Oak” on Saturday, Kate Nash returned to the stage, singing the opening lines of “Hey Asshole.” Watsky seemed a bit surprised, but took it in stride as they sang together a medley of “Hey Asshole,” “Strong as an Oak” and “4AM Monday.” Watsky later informed the crowd that they were the only audience to see him and Kate Nash perform “Hey Asshole” live.

Watsky finished off Friday night with “Woah Woah Woah” and encore “IDGAF.” For the Saturday show, the encore performance was “All You Can Do,” a truly fitting end for these unforgettable stops on the “All You Can Do” tour.

Article by Isaac Yi
Photos by Isaac Yi and Amber Pike
Special thanks to Ivette Flores

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