Show Review: Donovan Frankenreiter at Belly Up
USD Radio caught the Donovan Frankenreiter show on Tuesday 6/21, at The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. Frankenreiter and his band rocked the sold-out crowd through an hour long set.
By: Chuck Cartwright
I first started listening to Donovan Frankenreiter when I was 15. My aunt took me to the Jack Johnson concert at the Greek Theater in Berkley as a birthday present, because she knew one of the guys on Jack’s production team. Frankenreiter was a part of Brushire Records at the time, and therefore he had an opening slot on the tour. I didn’t know much about him, but he put on a great show and I bought his self-titled album. After the show I had the chance to meet Frankenreiter, and he signed the CD I bought with the words “Stay Free”, next to his signature.
Fast forward almost seven years and I’m in a sold out Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach on a Tuesday night. My friend and I got there in just enough time to catch a few minutes of the Seth Pretyman’s set. The venue was full of good vibes–either that or everyone had been drinking for a while–never a scenario completely out of the question in Solana Beach. Then Frankenreiter took the stage, with a four piece band in tow, all wearing (somewhat) matching hats.
As the first few notes became audible from Frankenreiter’s guitar, the band kicked in and the show was underway. Laid back acoustic surf folk was on the night’s agenda, as the band progressed through a number of old classics. At times they would break out into longer interludes of instrumental jams; pepperd with trumpet bursts and blusey keyboard slides. Donovan maintained a pretty even keel throughout the set, navigating each of his songs like a true veteran. He has an uncanny ability to get people moving, by implementing an infectiously laid back vibe. He even got the Solana Beach crowd moving a little bit with his classic sing-along choruses.
The show got off to a hot start, as Donovan flipped through the highlights of his catalog in a little over an hour. A one song encore entailed the classic Jack Johnson duet, “Free”, as the lyrics washed over the crowd with ease. It almost felt like I was on vacation rather than chilling at the Belly Up on a Tuesday night, but maybe that was the point. It was a summertime party that could not be beat.
Almost 7 years since I last caught a Donovan Frankenreiter show, and it seems little has changed with the journmen songsmith. As the rest of the world has continued to change, Donovan has more or less stayed on the road, with his guitar and surfboard in hand, maintaining the “Stay Free” mantra the whole way through.