PAPA recently premiered a series of live videos filmed at El Rey Theatre, including “Young Rut“, “I Am The Lion King,” and my personal favorite, “Put Me To Work.” This black-and-white video series was a true homage to the hometown crowd that has so heartily embraced the promising duo, and it also served as a preview to the band’s homecoming show at the venue to wrap up the year as well as their tour opening for Cold War Kids.
Opening the set as they do their debut album, Tender Madness (which was LA Music Blog’s #10 Debut of 2013), was the band-titled song “PAPA,” and the track really got the crowd going after the speakers stopped blasting the perfect introductory hype track, “Big Poppa,” as the band members took their places on stage. This marked the sixth time I’ve seen PAPA live, and I cannot stress enough the band’s impressive stage presence.
Some drummers get lost behind the curtain of cymbals, but that is far from the case with Darren Weiss. I’ve written about the group’s powerful, resonating vocals before, but that was about a year ago, and as the band has since released that highly anticipated debut full-length and toured non-stop, the charisma and charm that enchants their fan base has grown stronger with each graduation of larger venues and turnouts.
Sporting a Nelson Mandela shirt in honor of the recently passed philanthropist, Danny Presant’s basslines were as uplifting as ever, and Evan Weiss’ bright guitar riffs kept the set in dance-mode with radiant bridges and breakdowns. The organ-esque keys provided an extra texture in songs like “Ain’t It So,” adding to Evan’s funk-influenced electric guitar picking. The retro soul that permeates PAPA’s music and live show is timeless, translating equally across the stage as it did in the El Rey music videos that preceded the performance.
A set that felt all-too-short came to a quick end. A beautiful perk to Tender Madness is the additional familiar materialm, which fueled the enthusiasm for an encore. What came was an open-armed standing ovation from the band to the crowd as they returned to the stage. Danny and Darren thanked the audience one more time before continuing for a few more songs and closing out the night.
It’s always a party with PAPA. My only disappointment of the night was failing to pick up a copy of A Good Woman Is Hard to Find on vinyl, and that’s on me.
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