JIM WELTE. Writer. Editor.

Live Show Review: Mayer Hawthorne at Bimbo’s, San Francisco

By:  | published on November 15, 2010

Mayer Hawthorne
November 11th at Bimbo’s 365 Club, San Francisco


Mayer Hawthorne ::: Ogden Theatre ::: 04.07.10. Photo by Julio Enriquez/Courtesy WikiMedia Commons.

There are plenty of lessons to be learned from digging in the crates. But few have applied those lessons as well in recent years as Mayer Hawthorne. Steeped in the classic sound of late 1960s and early ‘70s Motown as a kid growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Hawthorne and his dusty fingers have walked into a sound that is at once incredibly familiar yet altogether new. In a headlining set at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco, Hawthorne and the County, his four-piece backing band, perfectly melded classic soul music with an obvious love for classic hip-hop and the timeless samples on which it is built.

Hawthorne emerged out of the LA scene several years ago as DJ Haircut and crafted his debut album, A Strange Arrangement, as a producer’s stab at sample-friendly soul music. But while the album is full of timeless tracks, Hawthorne obviously gleaned something just as important from that era’s live performances: Style and pace.

Hawthorne strode onstage in a natty charcoal suit and red tie with the County sporting matching red Lacoste cardigans and the stage decked with bulb-laden capital “M” and “H” light stands. They jumped into the driving backbeat and breezy horns of “Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’”, and Hawthorne warned the fence-sitters at the outset that “this is a show, not

a concert, so if you didn’t come here to dance and party, get your ass to the back of the room.” Over the next hour and a bit, the group kept the mostly succinct tracks moving, segueing one into another and mixing in odes to hip-hop (The Neptunes-produced Snoop Dogg track “Beautiful”) and those dusty fingers (the Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes”). He interspersed the tunes with funny asides, like being mistaken for Tobey Maguire (“Hey Spiderman!”) by a security agent at the Ft. Lauderdale airport recently, a nice bookend to his earlier tale of being mistaken for Michael Buble at Amoeba Records when he was in town for the Outside Lands Festival. Both tales served as entryways into the phenomenal “Maybe So, Maybe No”, which morphed into the chorus of his remix of Snoop Dogg’s “Gangsta Luv.”

Throughout the crisp, highly entertaining set, even as his band wailed, Hawthorne was the picture of calm, never breaking a sweat. He didn’t need to—he’d already done his homework.

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