The Roxy sits right in the heart of LA’s famed Sunset strip among landmarks such as The Viper Room and Whiskey A Go Go. Prominent in the LA music scene since the early 1970′s, this 500-person club was the most intimate venue I’ve ever seen Boombox in. It is a rare treat when this duo rolls into town and although the crowd was on the small side before their set started, the excitement in the room was palpable. Belgium’s DJ Ramona Wouters got the evening started with a subdued and balanced set that fluctuated from minimal to deep house. By the time they had begun, the room was full of eager fans ready to groove.
First, some background: I’m a huge Boombox fan — I’ve seen them rock prime timeslots at Wakarusa, Electric Forest and Bonnaroo. I’ve seen them tear down Red Rocks annually for the past five years. But this small show on the Sunset strip was really something special. With the signature boa-wrapped mic stand already in place, the funk-adelic duo of vocalist/guitarist Zion Rock Godchaux and producer/mastermind Russ Randolph took the stage for what was certainly one of the most organic and cohesive sets I’ve ever seen them execute. Each song swelled and grew with natural ease, transitioning into the next effortlessly. This style is indicative of the theory that Boombox claims to live by; “it’s all natural, it’s all in real-time, and that’s why it’s Rock n Roll” says Godchaux of their anti-setlist attitude.
From “Headchange” to “Stereo”, the duo touched on all of their hits from Visions of a Backbeat & downriverelectric with style and grace. As beautiful as each track was, I think the bridges between the songs were the most interesting and dynamic parts of the show. My favorite moment was when the first chords of The Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street” rumbled low and deep through the room. It took the crowd only seconds to realize that they were ACTUALLY playing this rarely-performed gem. A knowing smile cracked across Zion’s face as the crowd reacted — both of his parents performed with the Dead while he was very young.
Simple production bathed the musicians in beams of colorful light — working to compliment the performance, rather than clutter. On Friday, Boombox will return to the familiar seas of Colorado for several sold-out shows at some of the most incredible venues in the world. And yes, these shows will be earth-shaking and mind-blowing…but I don’t think I would trade the understated, authentic Thursday evening I got to share with Boombox at the itsy-bitsy Roxy Theatre for any of it!