Time travel is real. Perhaps not in the Back to the Future sense that most people think of when that term is uttered, but in a more subtle and temporary way, traveling back in time is absolutely an attainable and realistic experience. Everyone at Pokey LaFarge’s sold-out show at The Troubadour on Friday can attest to that. With a setlist that largely favored songs off his latest album, this year’s Something in the Water, the folk singer from St. Louis led his six-piece band through an energetic performance that genuinely harkened back to a time nearly 100 years in the past.

Now the time-travel vibe of the show could easily be pinned on the sounds that the musicians onstage delivered (it’s not a difficult connection to make when the primary instruments are washboard, harmonica, upright bass, and clarinet). One could also easily presume that the vibe of the night was heavily influenced by the apparel of Pokey and the gang (these guys definitely dress the part and there aren’t any visual anachronisms that might take you out of the moment, i.e., drummer Matthew Meyer checking the time on his iPhone 6 plus or guitarist Adam Hoskins running his guitar through a BOSS multi-effects processor pedal).

Pokey LaFarge Something In the Water

But there was an intangible energy in the air that contributed to this experience feeling like a throwback more than any of the previously mentioned factors. When LaFarge hit those falsetto notes on standout Water track “Wanna Be Your Man,” or when he and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Koenig shared a microphone to harmonize with each other on sing-along-friendly tune “The Spark,” everyone in the room seemed more present and in the moment than you typically expect from your average Los Angeles show.

If someone as meticulous and tuned-in as Jack White has worked with a talent like this (he produced Pokey LaFarge’s Chittlin’ Cookin’ Time in Cheatham County in 2011 and collaborated with him on the song “I Guess I Should Go To Sleep” from White’s own 2012 record, Blunderbuss), it feels a little easier to cast aside the typical LA cynicism and accept an act like Pokey LaFarge as the real deal.

pokey lafarge by Joshua Black Wilkins

He may appear to be an anomaly, reveling in and pushing forward a sound and aesthetic that seems like it shouldn’t be possible in this day and age, but when a room full of people can have a good time to music that far predates the years of their own adolescence, clearly a nerve has been collectively tapped. Time travel is real, folks, and Pokey LaFarge is the man behind the wheel of this particular DeLorean.

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