After seeing Allen Stone command the crowd at Brooklyn Bowl, I vowed that I would see many more of his shows. So when a little bird (Sister Sparrow) tweeted in my ear that he was doing a free last-minute gig at Rockwood yesterday, the plans were set in motion to get there as soon as I finished work. Once let in, I was able to get my favorite balcony seat in the house. I ordered a beer and waited for the magic to happen.
To my surprise, it happened almost instantly. Lyle Divinsky, a subway station singer-songwriter, walked out in his bare feet and sat on a stool in the center of the stage. Donning a hat and vest, if only his pants would have been rolled up one ring higher, he would've resembled a grown Huck Finn. And then he started to sing... a cappella. If Allen Stone is the neo-soul wunderkind whiteboy from Washington, Divinsky is his counterpart from the other top corner of the map, Maine. The audience was hooting and hollering after that first little taste, so Lyle grabbed an acoustic and led a singalong of his tune, "Come on Home." "Y'all excited to see Allen Stone?" he asked. Cheers. "Me too. But I hope you like what's leading up to it too." Keeping time by paddling his feet off his stool, he kept the soul train coming with "Push On" and "Disaster," the latter of which featured a groovy little jam led by his uncle, Andy Argondizza, on guitar. The crowd whooped spiritedly at the line, "Fuck you, Cupid!" during "Hit Man," and Divinsky channeled Otis Redding on a series of "I got to"s on "I Can't Believe the Way That You Love Me." Lyle paused at the song's end, and announced, "So for these last two, it is my pleasure and my honor to welcome my favorite singer in the world, my dad, Mr. Phil Divinsky." It was the epitome of a healthy father-son relationship as the two traded lines, smiling widely while the other sang. Acts like Divinsky and Moon Hooch are why I always pause my iPod when I come across a performer on the platform. You just never know.
Frances Cone Band was up next. The plucky bass and drums that kicked off "Better Man" reminded me a little too much of "Come on Eileen," but the set improved from there. I didn't envy her position, sandwiched between two vocal powerhouses, but she made do, using her smoky voice on a cover of the Black Keys' "These Days" that actually had me struggling to remember who originally sang it. By the next number, "Mercy," Frances had also stepped out of her shoes, feeling the room's energy through the floorboards.
ALLEN STONE - 08.02.13 - ROCKWOOD MUSIC HALL (54 minutes)
A Change is Gonna Come / Contact High / Celebrate Tonight / Quit Callin / The Bed I Made / Sex & Candy / Is This Love / Figure It Out / Unaware / Last to Speak