LIVE REVIEW: KPRI Holiday Soiree with Fitz and the Tantrums + Mayer Hawthorne @ Balboa Theater, SD 11/30/11

December 02. 2011 | By Dustin Shey

San Diego station KPRI (102.1 on your FM dial) hosted their Holiday Soiree party this year at the recently reopened Balboa Theater in the Gaslamp District. The venue’s capacity is 1,339 and I’d say that the night drew out about 1,000 folks from the highly populated city of San Diego (3.4 million). That’s a crying shame.

Considering the lineup of acts is somewhat indie, a bill wrapped with a bow like Fitz and the Tantrums, Mayer Hawthorne, and The Head and The Heart should easily sell out a venue with less than 1,500 seats. It speaks to the (lack of) musical taste harboring inside San Diego residents. Granted, most radio stations in this city are complete junk, so it could be understandable.

The Head and The Heart opened up the evening and were absolutely fantastic for the sitting down nature of the evening. Unfortunately, my photo pass was about an hour late coming in, so I didn’t get any epic snapshots of the acoustic and sincere act.

Mayer Hawthorne is from Detroit, which makes it easier to understand why the man is trying to single-handedly bring soul back. His latest single “The Walk” off of his latest album, How You Do, has recently skyrocketed to number 5 on radio charts. Congrats dear sir, your roots from Michigan and white boy ability to interpret classic Motown songs is serving you well.

Since it was my first time seeing Mayer Hawthorne, I was pretty jazzed about the whole experience. Finally, an artist is actually looking at todays pop music, swimming against the grain, digging up a formula that used to work, and probably always will. Keep the beats beating, the soul soulful, and the live show experience one that keeps the people dancing, weaving, or bobbing their heads.

Headliners Fitz and the Tantrums were as always, lively and entertaining. Problem is, the Balboa Theater is not the place for a lively and entertaining show. The seated venue is a place for plays, symphonies, and musicals. Not for throwback Motown musical acts.

To see more pictures of the evening, just click on any of the previous above.

And to sum up the evening – lackluster. I’m happy when there’s a lineup of great bands like the ones that were playing at the soiree. I’m happy when people can appreciate great music. I just get a little upset when a city of nearly three and a half million folks can’t pack a venue of 1,500 to enjoy such a show. Good job KPRI on curating a great show. Bad job on venue choice.

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