I arrived at Bardot on Monday night for a special edition of School Night at 7:30 PM in an effort to nag a great spot in the tiny Hollywood venue. R&B singer Miguel was announced as the special headliner just an hour or so earlier, and I knew the place was going to be jam-packed.
By the time Miguel took the stage around 11:30 PM, my feet were beyond wrecked by the unforgiving hard floor. But the wait was immediately made worth it when the Los Angeles native launched into a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” (watch the video below) supported by nothing but an acoustic guitar. There was audible excitement as Miguel worked through the first couple verses before segueing into his song “Waves.”
In the front row were Chicago’s Chance the Rapper and actress Chloe Grace Moretz, who seemingly always ends up at LA’s hottest concerts (we saw her at BROODS at the Fonda last year with Taylor Swift and others).
Miguel’s sexy brand of R&B had people bumping and grinding, only taking a break from doing so when the singer would launch into a monologue about what was going on with him. Before “Hollywood Dreams,” the singer talked about how our city can show you both hope and despair separated by just a couple of blocks. He later noted that he’d been feeling really down lately and appreciated the opportunity to do “something real” by performing in the intimate 300-capacity venue.
Though his performance lasted only 45 minutes at most, it was the kind of thing that makes you appreciate living in LA.
School Night in particular has been reliable as a weekly spot to discover new music, and despite the gaudy headliner, Monday was no different with four excellent opening acts taking place prior to Miguel.
London electro-pop outfit HAELOS made their Los Angeles debut with their set, just a few months before they will play Coachella in April. The dual vocals of Arthur Delaney and Lotti Benardout really soar, especially supported by keyboardist Dom Goldsmith. Goldsmith had a crazy setup with three different keyboards setup around him. Their full-length album debut Full Circle drops in March, and the material they previewed from the record sounded very strong.
German-born, LA-based NoMBe delivered some solid soul singing while backed by a beefy band as the set before Miguel. His set made the most sense as an opener for the R&B hit singer in terms of matching the style of music somewhat. He wore an epic robe of sorts like he was a Roman king, ditching it after a song or two to reveal a flashy shiny shirt. “Take off your shirt!” someone yelled, to which a couple other people joined the cause. His sound was pretty unique – the first song he performed sounded like it could’ve been a protest song from Dispatch – others were more sexy-time sounding. Overall he impressed with his 30 minutes.
Sydney rockers High Highs had some heavy synths and a sound that felt like Aqualung meets Phantom Planet. Opener Nick D’ and the Believers were also solid with a unique indie rock sound.
Getting five talented musical acts for the price of none has been a regular staple of School Night (though it’s usually four) and the DJs are always on point in between sets in an effort to keep the energy up. Many people got let into the venue only to be shut out of the actual performance area, forced to listen to the show from behind a curtain in the back lounge area. Still, to hear the angelic voice of Miguel still had to constitute a win for those people.
Words & Photos: Mark E. Ortega
MIGUEL PERFORMING “SPACE ODDITY” AT IT’S A SCHOOL NIGHT AT BARDOT