By: Taylor Morgan
Donavon Frankenreiter The Observatory 7/25/14
A poppy, surf-rock show is what we expect at a Donavon Frankenreiter, the perfect tune to sip a piña colada to while kicking back with a lover at the beach. Yet when he began his set with the track "Move By Yourself," the audience quickly switched gears from their dazed demeanor to a concentrated observance of his every move. The chatter came to a halt and eyes followed the movement of his fingers across guitar strings as he exhibited a legendary guitar solo. On this particular night Frankenreiter was much more than a protégé of Jack Johnson, a famous surfer who rides single fins and retro boards, he commanded the room with ease and transposed energy on the vast age group of attendees.
He moved along to "Bend In The Road" and "Call Me Papa" arriving at his most famous track yet, "Free." He performed a slowed down rendition of the song that began with the drummer lightly shaking maracas. Polka dot lights flew throughout the room as he traveled through "Heading Home," "Swing On Down," "Life, Love & Laughter," "On My Mind," and "That's Too Bad" which had an incendiary like draw from the crowd during another legendary guitar solo.
After completing his set list, Donavon left the stage to return once more throwing peace signs in the air. His encore started with "What'cha Know About" and after rowdy parents and surfer groms begged for more, he welcomed back his opening act Tom Curren for one last song. A long pause occurs. Donavan says to the audience and those behind the stage with a laugh, "Okay, where the fuck is he?" Another minute passed before he shakes his head, "Alright, who out there plays guitar and knows how to fucking play?"
A large portion of the audience started pointing to one man in the bottom standing section, close to the stage. Frankenreiter says to him, "You want to sit in? Okay." This man scales the ledge that separates the audience and the stage and Donavon hands over the guitar. Believe it or not, the guy (who reached out to us to tell us his name is Mike Miller of Pasadena) was genius. He plays the guitar with ease singing, "If it don't matter to you, it don't matter to me." The crowd roars with excitement, jaws dropped, including Frankenreiter's. A harmonious, melodic, somewhat legendary voice has popped out of this random dude!? Next a little girl from the audience takes the stage as her parents yell "Canto!" The little Italian girl sang with Frankenreiter and the crowd as she giggling. Next, the king of the killer stache, wearing a black and white Zeppelin t-shirt, Sanuk sandals, a Native American looking guitar strap, and a black fedora thanked the audience and left the stage.
Set List: Move By Yourself The Way It Is Bend In The Road Call Me Papa Free Heading Home Swing On Down Life, Love & Laughter On My Mind That's Too Bad
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Encore: What'cha Know About It Don't Matter
Overheard: A girl in her early 20s pulls up a black and white photo of Tom Curren on her phone and next Donavon Frankenreiter and says with a look of awe, "What babes!"
The Crowd: Mucho aloha t-shirts, check. Fake mustache's, check. Man in a cowboy hat, you are random, check. Surf couples that don't know that they're hipsters but they really are, check. Older gentlemen holding up a lighter in the air, dangerously close to lighting his wife's hair on fire, check.