What Nick Drake was to the boomers, José González is to millennials. If there were ever a folk artist that could make you feel as if your soul was directly spoken to, it would be through this man’s music. With a deep yet soft melodic approach to songwriting, José intrinsically conjures up emotions you didn’t even know existed. His storytelling in combination with the effervescent guitar riffs make for not only a pensive headphone session, but also quite the profound live experience.
A Swedish man with Argentinian roots (hence the name), José incorporates a lot of the woodland sounds native to Scandinavia and lyrics that speak to the long days and nights of the region. In a surprise tour across the United States, Chapman University in Orange, CA was lucky enough to snag an evening with this performer for his only show in Southern California.
Held at the Musco Center for the Arts, the campus concert hall is a beautifully orchestrated and intimately curated music chamber with over 1,000 seats layered between three-stories. Designed by renowned architecture firm, Pfeiffer Partners, and sonically insulated by the world-famous Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata Acoustics, the Musco Center offers its students, performers and audience a state-of-the-art venue to behold any of their prized shows.
A modest yet cozy performance, Jose appeared on stage a humble artist. His set up included two guitars and a few pedals with an abstract mountain range painted behind him. From the onset the stage appeared minimal. It wasn’t until he started playing that a visceral environment emerged, accented by the lustrous lighting.
The hour-long show doubled as an auditory hug with some of his best songs like “Down the Line,” “This is How We Walk on the Moon,” and “Crosses” coming to the forefront. Although reserved in nature, Jose couldn’t help but smile and laugh, as fans in the audience would scream, “I love you José” after each song. The performance was mostly acoustic with one song accompanied by a talented flute player.
After a discography of one beautiful song after the next, José gracefully thanked the audience and walked off stage, only to be welcomed back for an encore, to which he ended the show with his rendition of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop.” The dreamy voice and tingling guitar chords, eloquently left the audience floating on a cloud of amazement.
It was no surprise José González delivered a stellar performance, but it was the venue that bolstered the ambiance and drove the mystical allure.
Be sure to listen to José González on Spotify and if in the Southern California region, check out Musco Center for the Art’s calendar of upcoming events. You’ll be happy to see a range of events, spanning from dance to symphonies to artists like José Gonzalez.