LIB recap: Allen Stone adds soul to Day 2

Crowds make their way through the main enterance of the Life is Beautiful festival in downtown Las Vegas, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

2013 Life Is Beautiful: Day 2, Part 1

It’s a hot, mid-afternoon set at Life Is Beautiful, and Allen Stone is putting in work on the Downtown Stage. Sure, the crowd isn’t huge, but it’s following the soulful singer energetically, screaming at all the right moments and grooving along to songs from his self-titled 2012 album as the festival wakes back up for Day 2.

Stone is dressed for Woodstock in a patterned shirt and fringed leather vest with hair flowing, but his sound is more Motown—poppy soul with plenty of R&B woven in. When he launches into a cover of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love,” it takes a second to place the melody, but Stone’s version is a fun, croony listen with plenty of emotion.

That emotion stays strong throughout the set, but the crowd seems to get lost on the slow burns. They dance along to breezier tracks, but can’t quite follow Stone to the serious side, conversations popping up when the band quiets down. That’s a shame. “Unaware,” a pained jam that repeats the chorus “You say that you care/I was unaware/All you do is pull, push, tear,” is one of Stone’s best, but it can’t hold the audience’s attention.

Stone wins them back, though, with more high-energy fare. Falsetto blaring and fringe flying, the frontman finishes by taking us to church. He leans over the pianist, hands hovering above the man’s chest like a preacher on a particularly passionate Sunday morning, and as the band rocks through the finish, we’re all dancing.

Photo of Sarah Feldberg

Sarah Feldberg

Get more Sarah Feldberg
  • At this point, the only constant from album to album is the band’s dedication to ambition.

  • Anyone who discovered COC at the band’s popular height should be satisfied with this effective return to the familiar.

  • Bassist Nate Brenner partners with leader Merrill Garbus for an approachable and dancey record.

  • Get More Music Stories
Top of Story