Concert Review: Steve Poltz/The Lovebirds
By: Juan Barragan
The Lovebirds and Steve Poltz
2 May 2014
Every couple of days, I make an effort to see what local shows are going on around the city of San Diego. I do this on a mobile app called Timbre, which shows a calendar of all the shows that are happening around the phone’s location, as well as the shows that friends are going to. A late addition to the app, which caught me by surprise, was Steve Poltz. He would be playing at a venue I had never been to before, and I had less than 48 hours to get tickets. Steve Poltz is a member of the band, The Rugburns, and he is also an alumnus of the University of San Diego. He graduated in the class of 85’. As for the venue, it was a place in University Heights called Swedenborg Hall, and when I arrived, I thought I was at the wrong location. It was a church. This was the location, however. Steve Poltz would be opening for The Lovebirds at a small hall within a church. The hall seated at the most 80 people, and by the time Steve Poltz took the stage, the show was sold out.
Steve Poltz’ style is very different from show to show. This was my first show seeing him play by himself. The previous time I saw him at the House of Blues San Diego for 91X’s 30th Birthday Bash when he played with his band, The Rugburns. That show was filled with loud, distorted guitars. This is why it was surprising to see Steve Poltz take the stage by himself with only an acoustic guitar. He opened with, “You Remind Me,” a soft folk song which appeared on his solo album, Chinese Vacation. The talent was easy to see, as Poltz’ finger picking style was very fluid and clean. Poltz’ set included songs that are currently unreleased, and one that will certainly be a hit when it is released. It talks about the struggles associated with going on tour across America. The lyrics, although they sounded unbelievable, are all true, Poltz claimed. One of the more memorable lines to this faster paced tune went something like this, “Got a ten-hour drive in the morning don’t sweat it, keep thinking ‘bout the gig last night you wish you could forget it, listen to a podcast a radio loud, you try to call your mom and end up yelling at your dad, car needs gas so you pull into the station and the weather channel says that you’re about to hit some snow, sell one CD give another four away, to add insult to injury you have to pay to play.” The rest of the verses of these songs were very relatable to musicians who know what the music industry is like. It’s good to see Poltz make light of those situations enough to write a song about those experiences. One of Poltz’ closing songs was “Hitchhiker Joe,” a song that is originally played by The Rugburns. He told the crowd a story halfway into the song about the music video to the song. The video was filmed in the early 90’s in San Diego, and Poltz was playing a show down at Kelly’s Pub in Old Town when a drunken guy came up to him and drunkenly mentioned that he had a helicopter. Poltz took down his number and called him the next morning to see if they could use the helicopter. The owner, now sober, agreed, and they went to Hilltop High School in Chula Vista where they paid a bunch of students some money to act like Hitchhiker Joe was chasing after them as they all fled out from the building. This is certainly not something that would be allowed in today’s world. Poltz then played his last song for the night, which would be the only of the night. It would Bob Dylan’s, “Forever Young.” Poltz mentioned that Bob Dylan wrote the second verse of the song in honor of Nelson Mandela without even knowing it. Poltz took the opportunity to use the final chorus of the song to have the crowd sing it in unison. The people in attendance took their cue and everyone sang the last chorus, making the end of Poltz’ set that much more special. Steve Poltz is definitely someone everyone needs to see live as he is certainly the most accomplished musician alumnus of our university.
Next up was The Lovebirds, a dynamic duo of young ladies that used their voices to grace the crowd with more awesome music. The duo played two sets, the first of which was fully acoustic in nature. The second set was much more lively, featuring looping pedals that were used in a creative fashion during the song, “Pale in Comparison.” The Lovebirds, halfway through their set, invited a bassist and a guitarist to the stage. This was just what The Lovebirds needed to give the fans some music to dance to. The first song with the full band was a cover by Radiohead, “High and Dry.” A really great original song that the band played was “Whiplash,” where the guitarist was able to use his bluesy style to complement the harmonious vocals the duo was performing with. These two’s voices are certainly very talented and worth listening to. It’s no wonder why Steve Poltz was seen in the crowd, which was mostly seated, showing off some very intricate dance moves, certainly caused by his appreciation for The Lovebirds’ music.
Both the Lovebirds and Steve Poltz are from San Diego. Although The Lovebirds are from San Diego, they just went on tour across the country. They will be back, though, so be sure to check them out. As for Steve Poltz, he just released a new album called The Accident, which is certainly worthy of checking out. Although if you are interested in learning what made Steve Poltz famous, you should check out The Rugburns first.