Moakler returns to his hometown for a final show
Last Thursday, Diesel Club Lounge in the South Side hosted a spectacular display of talent. The Three Amigos Tour, which consists of three young, soulful singer-songwriters, has been traveling throughout the eastern states, and this performance marked its Pittsburgh debut. The three performers, along with another talented opening act, provided over two hours of quality music for the 100 or so spectators. Club Diesel itself puts its audience 50 feet from the performers, giving the show an intimate appeal.
The first opening act of Thursday’s concert was Plane Pilot, a keyboard-drum-bass-guitar quartet of 20-somethings. The band’s vocalist and style are reminiscent of Better Than Ezra, with an infusion of blues. “The Sun” was romantic with a strong box guitar sound, while “The After Affair” relied on a piano-driven beat. Their song “Kaleidoscope” could best be described as ’70s piano funk, with the last two minutes of the song devoted to pure guitar and drum solos.
After Plane Pilot came the first of the Three Amigos: Ben Rector. Easily comparable to Jamie Lidell and at times sounding like Caleb Followill, lead singer of the Kings of Leon, Rector is incredibly bluesy. His opening number was “The Feeling,” in which he asked the audience for some help. He explained that the chorus involved repeating the words “the feeling” a few times, and soon enough, he had dozens of singers helping him out. Next up was “Your Heart is a Lonely One,” which placed beautiful words on top of incredibly catchy guitar riffs. The infectious beat kept the crowd moving.
Another of Rector’s songs was “Loving You is Easy,” which had a tropical feel due to the Caribbean-fusion percussion instruments. Rector once again asked for the help of the audience, this time inviting a request for something for him to sing about in his next song. As a result, he ended up singing about Steve Moakler’s hair. Rector closed his set with “Hank,” a beautiful piano ballad written for his young nephew.
Next, Chicago native Andrew Ripp took the stage. Ripp began his set by singing “Peace Like a River,” a charming piano ballad written about his wife. His next song, “Savior,” was written after he performed for soldiers overseas and met with a soldier in Norway named Marty. He humorously explained that the song wasn’t “about them,” but he feels that Marty “might like it.” Another song, titled “The Privileged Life,” was extremely eclectic, evolving from heavy electric guitar riffs and requiring that the audience shout “Hey!” in unison. In a climactic and unexpected ending, Ripp broke out a kazoo.
Ripp incorporated the “Pants on the Ground” song from American Idol into his own set, creating an unforgettable moment. He also chose to end his set with a beautiful piano ballad, this one written for his mother. The song, “Dresden Wine,” was played masterfully; his vocals were flawless and emotional, while his piano was haunting.
Last but most certainly not least was the headlining act, Steve Moakler. Returning to his hometown, Moakler was greeted with enthusiastic fans who sang along to each of his song selections. After arriving on stage eating a banana, he quickly began with the energetic “True Like Your Name,” while singing engaging lyrics like “Love is the worst, you can’t explain / But once you feel it inside, you’re not the same.” Next on the set list was “Where You Belong,” followed by “Stay Sound.”
Moakler explained that the next song, “Boy That You Drew,” was written about a girl that he never met. The lyrics to this song are clever, while Moakler confesses that he’s not like the ideal guy his special someone has been dreaming about. He sings, “There’s no one to blame / Please place the fault on the game / Your heart’s bound to wear different names.”
The next tune, “18,” started out soft, gradually building up to a vivacious ending. Rector, on keyboard, accidentally started the song off on the wrong note. After Moakler restarted the song, Rector smiled and apologized, as they went on to deliver another great performance.
After singing “Happy Birthday” to two members of the audience, Moakler proceeded into a strictly acoustic version of the fan favorite “Run.” Dozens sang along with Moakler, crooning “How many times do you set love free / Before you know it’s supposed to be? / And how long do you wait and see / Before you know to run to me?”
Next on the set list was “Hesitate,” which was actually featured on an episode of Private Practice. One of the song’s verses compares taking a chance to a game of cards: “And I’ve never been a gambling man / But if you want to see my hand / Ask me now and I won’t hesitate.” Following it was “False Alarms” and then “All the Faint Lights,” which was accompanied by vivid blue, green, and red lights flashing on the stage backdrop.
The closing song was “Slo-Mo,” to which the audience sang along for the song’s entirety. Toward the end of the tune, the music stopped and Moakler looked to his other Amigos, asking if they had fun on their tour. After he got satisfying answers from both guys, the music started back up for an exciting and lively finish.
When Moaker left the stage, the crowd almost immediately began chanting for an encore. He promptly and delightfully returned to the stage to deliver two more songs before checking out for the night.
All the artists who played at Diesel weren’t afraid to let loose and have a good time with the crowd. Every one of these men are young, talented, passionate, and will without a doubt see success on the road ahead of them.