Ed Note: Due to a misunderstanding, we were unable to take any photos of Amos Lee. See what he looks like here.
Amos Lee, Vusi Mahlasela House of Blues February 12, 2011
House of Blues was packed with more upper-crust, middle-aged people than a summer Dave Matthews Band concert in The Woodlands Saturday night. Not that there's anything wrong with that; apparently this is a great market for aspiring singer-songwriters.
These people love Lee so much they'll dish out almost 50 bucks for a general-admission ticket. After painfully overhearing some (presumably) drunk thirtysomethings relive their college glory days, Aftermath approached will call to discover that the show had even sold out.
We did some extensive research into Lee's catalog a few days prior, and found out he's a singer-songwriter of the acoustic-country-soul persuasion. Acoustrysoul, if you will; let that marinate for a while, it might catch on.
Aftermath tried to ask a few people hanging around outside how they'd heard of him and what type of music he played, but no one was really sure. Some people said it was folk, some said country. A few people said they had heard him from Pandora, and a few said they'd discovered the wealth of his music from a TV show or movie. The shared idea was that they "had to listen to it to understand it."
Lee experienced some possibly premature success at the beginning of his career with his 2005 self-titled debut. A few of his songs were featured on TV shows like Grey's Anatomy and Army Wives; shows that perhaps relied on his music, rather than the acting, to evoke the desired emotional response.
You know, the backup music for that mandatory scene where someone's walking away into the distance or having a breakdown in the janitor's closet at the hospital. Anyways, he released two more albums after his debut, 2006's Supply and Demand and 2008's Last Days at the Lodge, neither as well-received as his first.
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Since releasing the past two albums, he's severed a few relationships, worked on new material in his downtime, and recruited some notable names like Willie Nelson, Sam Beam of Iron & Wine, and Lucinda Williams to work on his fourth album, Mission Bell, which was released at the end of January.
Vusi Mahlasela was Saturday's opening act, and sounded great... we think. It was hard to hear him over the chatty crowd, armed as he was with only an acoustic guitar. At one point, Mahlasela even shushed everyone so he could "tell his story," and the volume only decreased by about half a decibel.
Around 10 p.m., Lee came onstage with a short self-introduction and opened with "El Camino" from fourth album Mission Bell, which he's been heavily promoting for the past month. You may have seen him on Ellen or Jay Leno, and he'll be on Letterman and The Early Show in the next week. Dude is on his acoustrysoul grind.
Lee's voice really was quite soulful, but it sounded like a weird cross between Gavin DeGraw and Ray LaMontagne. He was likable onstage and showed enough personality to hold the attention of even the least convinced - i.e. us - throughout his performance.
He ventured back to a few songs from his previous albums for the dedicated fans who have been with him since hearing him on Pandora or One Tree Hill. The ladies love him, and our ears are still ringing from the high-pitched "woo"s and cries of "I LOVE YOU AMOS!!!" Sunday morning.
Lee went back and forth between Supply and Demand, Last Days at The Lodge, and Amos Lee in no particular order. He asked the crowd if anybody had purchased Mission Bell and replied to the audibly positive response by mentioning, "Somebody better have it, last week it was No. 1 on the billboards." The "woo"s subsided as he starting playing the country-tinged "Cup of Sorrow," which was more upbeat than the set's previous songs.
Mission Bell was produced by alt-country band Calexico's front man, Joey Burns, and Lee made sure to plug the band before playing the bleak "Hello Again." Ironically, for the dismal lyrics - "you used to be so beautiful but you lost it somewhere along the way" - couples were huddled close and swaying together.
Lee switched from acoustic to electric guitar for the seductive "Won't Let Me Go," and interacted with the crowd by making the first floor sing "I feel alright tonight" and the mezzanine call back with "ooh" to prepare for some lovemaking.
Everyone must have been pretty tired, because the singing didn't last too long. Lee continued playing while he let us know that that he had brought a gift. Aftermath was kind of hoping it was the beautifully bearded Sam Beam or, by some Saturday-night concert miracle, Willie Nelson.
The gift was a portly dude in an all-white suit complete with a white top hat by the name of Mutlu the Angel. Yes, it was just as intriguing as it sounds.
Mtulu came onstage to serenade a crowd already in baby-making mode with some shower-themed lyrics of love: "Have you ever taken a shower with an angel? I heard you were a Rockets fan..maybe if you ain't busy you can come over to Angel's motel and I could show you my rocket of love. Let's take a shower of love, I have your favorite shampoo - let me give you a scrub."
Personal Bias: There were skull-themed cowboy hats for sale at the merch table, so you can thank Lee if you happen to see any of those things out at the Rodeo. He's is a good guitar player and can put on a decent show, but we don't expect to buy any of his albums.
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The Crowd: Engaged couples getting one of their last concerts in before preparing for a lifetime of boring nights and Grey's Anatomy at home, as well as groups of married couples probably hoping to flirt with a friend's husband or wife. Just callin' it like we see it.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Dude, remember how hard we raged at that one Pike party?"