Opinion | Bona fide | Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers

A review of the Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers concert


Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers performed at Delmar Hall, Oct. 30.

Reciting poetry or a journal entry and then adding a beat as the poetry is recited; that is the essence of Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers,the West-Coast sub-pop group that hails from California.

Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers do not create party music. Their style is an acquired taste and appealing to a niche audience. Although that audience is not so niche since they drew the world’s attention with the undeniably-charismatic viral video for their now-hit song “Peach Scone.”

We’ve all seen the miracle: a band uploads a video to YouTube, the video goes viral and the band becomes successful; it’s a story that’s become a staple in modern society.

Despite their online fame, Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers have not fallen victims to the beast that is the music industry as they stand in sharp contrast to the flashiness of this viral-video age.

Although the “Peach Scone” video was an entry into NPR’s Tiny Desk concert contest, the group did not win and–therefore–were not featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk series.

Nonetheless the viral hit spawned a tour, stardom and even a performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk after the contest.

I stole a chance to interview Frank Johnson after his Oct. 30 concert at Delmar Hall.

“That was the craziest experience of my life thus far,” Johnson said. “I was very nervous. I freaked out in the middle of it a little bit.”

Completely selling out The Pageant’s little-brother-venue Delmar Hall, Johnson and the Lovemakers poured their hearts out to a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd that was grabbing hold of every word.

From the middle of the crowd, I could hear every individual reciting almost every word Johnson performed as if it was a Sunday morning prayer being preached.

His fans are some of the most devoted I’ve ever met making the harmonious show that much more intimate. I even met a fan that drew a picture of Johnson and ended up moving to the front of the crowd to personally hand it to him.

Johnson’s live performance brought out the same exuberance he gives off throughout the entirety of his “Peach Scone” phenomenon. His personality brought the show to life literally encapsulating the entire audience with his wit and impromptu style of performing.

Johnson and the Lovemakers offered Delmar Hall a few unreleased songs. One that stood out in particular was “Happiness.” It brought the most sincere edge leaving me shaken by the blanket of intense, fearfully-philosophical energy it laid over the crowd.

“It’s a new one that we performed,” Johnson said. “I talk about my dad’s alcoholism and [Hobo’s guitarist Derek Lynch’s] dad. We’re very similar in that way, so it felt really good. It’s the most prevalent thing [in my life].”

Seeing “Peach Scone” in the flesh was something I will forever remember. The song first introduced me to the minds of Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers and will always have a place in my heart because of the oh-so-relevant lyrics.

“I love the thought of being with you/Or maybe it’s the thought of not being so alone/Man, I really love being in love/But I also really love not crying on the phone/Man, I love the thought of being with you/Or maybe it’s the thought of not being so alone/I don’t know, the second one’s way sadder than the first one/But, I don’t know”

The setlist also included staples from their debut album “The Rise of Hobo Johnson” such as “Romeo and Juliet,” “Father” and “Sex in the City.”

Beyond his catalog of music, one of the highlights of the night was the unexpected performance of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.” The entire crowd started jumping and even had Johnson joking about how a song he didn’t write is the song that had the biggest effect on the crowd.

As the last song played and the Lovemakers made their way off-stage, the sold-out crowd chanted for an encore until the band returned for “3%,” an intimate track reveling in Johnson’s peers’ doubts of his success and how far he has come and still has to go. The emotionally-empowering track even influenced a bra to be thrown onto the stage.

At the end of the night I had the opportunity to meet Hobo Johnson and all of the Lovemakers even having a prolonged discussion with drummer Ben Lerch and a conversation with Johnson. Johnson himself went around to every single person waiting to see him and had full-fledged conversations for hours until he had to leave on the tour bus.

Overall, Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers delivered a full-length feature set of pure adrenaline, excitement, love and–most of all–a fiery passionate performance.