Rafael Saadiq and Band of Skulls at the Annenberg School of Photography

Saturday saw the last of a 3 part free concert series sponsored by KCRW and the Annenberg School of Photography promoting it’s “Who Shot Rock” exhibit covered early in the summer here. On Saturday Rafael Saadiq and Band of Skulls rocked Century City. Saturday’s show, billed as a tribute to Bob Dylan, was another monumental success and a rare treat for us West- Siders to experience live outdoor music in our own backyard in Century City.

KCRW has been running a series of free concerts throughout the summer all over L.A , but these shows were special because they were able to team up with the Annenberg Exhibit to give concertgoers a large dose of new music and young energy with the Annenberg’s photographic tribute to the icons of Rock and Roll. The exhibit was open during all three concerts for the mostly youthful audience to walk through, also for free. Even parking was a dollar and in Century City that’s a small miracle.

All three events were organized similarly. Doors were opened at 5 and although there was an online RSVP check in, the events were entirely first come first serve. Local restaurants were open to the public and controlled beer gardens were available to let the spirits flow. By 6 pm the events were all at capacity at 4000 people.

At the last two events KCRW kicked off the live music with DJ sets as it was on Saturday. Music kicked off at 7pm and was done by 10pm. On Saturday the stage was dominated by Rafael Saadiq and his outstanding band belting out old school R and B and Blues. Saadiq was an unknown to me, but is a veteran music industry musician and grammy winning producer.

Saadiq, a stage name, was a member of the late 80’s pop act Toni Toni Tone. His style is mid 60’s and his image evokes a young Stevie Wonder, while his sound is closer to James Brown. He had the multi cultural crowd up and dancing and his set was cut way too short. Saadiq has just recently struck out as a solo musical act after more than 20 years in the music industry and would expect to see his stock rise the more exposure he gets. He is stylish, talented and has a sense of music history.

Band of Skulls by contrast is an alternative trio from England. Fresh off a spot on this year’s Lollapalooza, the Skulls delivered hard edged rock and roll. A nice band, but their sound wasn’t for me.

The “Who Shot Rock” shows were nice ways to spend an afternoon of music and merry making in a typically stuffy business district, which made the event all the more cool. The broader attempt to blend the Annenberg’s history of rock with the new music presented fell short. Yesterday’s show was billed as an homage to Bob Dylan yet the only connection to Dylan was a short montage of photos of Dylan in between sets. Not even a whiff of an actual Dylan tune and it was pretty clear the young crowd learned nothing about Bob Dylan by the end of the night.

The photo montages, featured in the photo essay,  were nice transitions between bands but did nothing more than make me feel desperately old as they flashed images of Elvis Costello, The Doors, The Police, Frank Zappa and others, I found myself having to explain to all the 20 somethings inhabiting the events who those folks were and why they were important to music. As one concert goer explained to me, “how should I know, I wasn’t even born yet”. Ouch.

Brian Michaels

About Brian Michaels

Brian Michaels is grew up in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles in the glory days of the late 1960s and 70s. Only a stone's throw from the Sunset Strip, Michaels had an early education in rock music. Michaels attended his first punk rock show at the age of 14 at the Whiskey a Go Go and has been going strong ever since. Brian is a defense attorney by profession but adds photography and writing to a list of his many passions outside of the his job. Brian can be found on the web at www.exlaprosecutor.com.
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