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Andy Grammer: “Back Home” and Better Than Ever

This is a review of Andy Grammer’s performance at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, California on July 17th. (All photos by Brianne Nemiroff)This is a review of Andy Grammer’s performance at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, California on July 17th. (All photos by Brianne Nemiroff)

You can listen to an album a million times but you will never listen to it the same after you’ve seen the artist live. Seeing the instruments being played right in front of you, hearing the singer perform their unique interpretation that’s always slightly different than the recording, is always a magical experience. Whether it’s a song you’ve loved for years or for days, after seeing it live, part of you brings you back to the concert every time that track begins to play. I’ve been to, approximately, 75 shows in my life. So getting the gut feeling for every song, of course, doesn’t happen. But after leaving Andy Grammer’s show at the Great American Music Hall, I will now have that gut feeling every time his latest single, “Back Home”, begins to play.

“Back Home” is so full of energy, raw emotion, and it’s one of those rare songs that really connects with the artist’s audience. Why? Because his loyal fans know he worked his way up in the industry, performing on the Third Street Promenade in Los Angeles, and at every open mic night that would have him, until he got signed and hit it big with “Keep Your Head Up” in 2011. So for him to sing “And no matter where we go/ We always find our way back home” is Andy telling his fans that fame and his life on tour hasn’t gone to his head.

While he hasn’t gained an ego, he definitely has gained charisma over the past few years. You can also tell it by the way he dresses. He used to dress in simple, classic colors, mainly grays, blacks, and blues, and always stick to the traditional t-shirt. But now that he’s headlining, and has been married for almost two years, he has integrated a lot more prints as well as different cuts of shirts he is wearing on tour.

The show at the Great American Music Hall was the penultimate show on his Back Home tour, the last for his two openers. Because of that, the musicians were more emotional with each other all night. Grammer made Brendan James, his first opener, wear a green chicken suit during his song, “Green”, and he made Andrew Ripp, his second opener, wear a bunny suit. His reasoning was because Ripp was going to cover a song from 8 Mile, where Eminem’s nickname is rabbit. Whatever floats his boat, I guess.

Both openers were mediocre. While Ripp seemed to be a stronger artist and charismatic in his own right, James seemed to be desperately trying to emulate Grammer’s…everything. From his performance style to his beats, to the way he interacted with the audience. Someone definitely went to Grammer school and picked up some of his characteristics along the tour.

After a LONG hour and 45-minute wait, Grammer took the stage. He played his favorites such as “Miss Me”, “Keep Your Head Up”, and “Fine By Me”. He also introduced a handful of new tracks, including “Pushing”, “Honey I’m Good”, and “Holding Out”, from his record dropping the 5th of August. (Expect a higher influence of reggae and hip-hop this time around mixed in with his piano-rock flare of his last record.) While I enjoyed hearing bits of the new record, I really loved the fact that Grammer and his band members also synchronized simple dance moves. I’m not saying they were trying to be a boy band, but they did do simple two-steps and head nods, things that made the stage more visually stunning while still allowing them to play the hell out of their instruments. His “last” song of the evening, before his encore, was “Back Home”. It was a hell of a closer as it really ended the evening with a bang. The lighting director lit up the room during the chorus as all the band members were singing in unison. Everyone in the room was feeling good during that song.

On August 5th, Andy Grammer will finally be releasing his sophomore album, Magazines or Novels. While the title is unusual, after listening to a handful of the tracks live, I have already pre-ordered it. While most musicians can easily be jaded by the spotlight and touring with acts of all genres, Grammer has seemed to only use the influence of other artists to his advantage, absorbing every ounce of confidence into his songwriting, producing, and performance style.

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