The Music Factory of Charlotte, N.C. played a very rainy host to southern soul rocker G Love and Mr. Wordplay himself, Jason Mraz. Following the next leg on the Gratitude Cafe tour, fans were given a rather wet welcome -a downpour of rain,booming thunder, and lightning pitching through the sky.
Many rainsoaked concertgoers with spirits more than dampened made their way out the venue, while the rest took shelter under thin plastic ponchos, overhangs, and a makeshift coffeehouse representing the real Gratitude Cafe.
When it looked like the concert would be a no go, it was announced to 5,000 fans that G Love and Mraz would play an exclusive acoustic session at The Fillmore, an indoor venue able to cram in 1,500 people.
Needless to say I bolted from the stands, risking broken ankles, bruised limbs, and beatings from lots of frustrated, drunk husbands/boyfriends/douchebags to get in line. After riotous shoving and nearly losing my fedora, I made it inside. Those fortunate enough to make the 1,500 cut were nothing short of elated. Despite the slippery floors, a post-rain stench, and wet clothes, the crowd couldn't have been happier.
G Love (minus the Special Sauce for the session) opened the show with freewheeling, freestyling southern soul. Blasting on his harmonica and tapping his feet like a spider, G Love entertained the crowd with laid back odes to cold beverages and booty calls.
Of all the concerts I've been to, "relaxing" has rarely made an appearance on my list of adjectives to describe them. However, Mraz's set was nothing short of refreshing. He spoke of sunshine in the midst of rain, relishing in his chance to clear his mind and soul throughout the set. Indeed Mraz's more popular tunes, "The Remedy," "You and I Both," and "Curbside Prophet" went off the constructed studio recording in favor of experimental breakdowns and whispered improvisations.
Mraz, Toca, and the gang performed music from his latest album, We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, within an easy-going atmosphere and nonchalant joy. An energizing "Live High," "Make it Mine" and "Butterfly" sparked head bobbing and swaying, while a positively adorable rendition of "Lucky" magnetically brought couples together. Singing the female vocals was Elise, a manager of The Gratitude Cafe who happened to have the perfect pipes for the duet.
After six hours of standing (four of them waiting for the show to start), the concert was a breath of fresh air. I was able to check out The Music Factory, The Fillmore, and catch Mr. A-Z in action. If the tour is heading your way, grab some tickets and a poncho - just in case.