SXSW Live Shot: Aloe Blacc

What Avicii knew about this Cali smoothster that you didn’t

After fire marshals made their Rainey Street rounds at midnight, Clive Bar went from one in/one out to a single admittance for every five leaving. If you weren’t early for an Aloe Blacc show that started nearly an hour late, you were out of luck. The 300 people on the right side of the fence, however, were treated to a hell of a show with ample elbow room.

Dressed in a dark blazer and kangol hat that had him looking like the coolest professor on campus, the California soul man confidently cruised through highlights from breakout 2010 album Good Things and newly-minted Lift Your Spirit, released stateside one day prior.

Photo by Shelley Hiam

Blacc began by proclaiming himself “The Man” before leading a sing-along to “Wake Me Up,” a global smash he wrote and sang uncredited for Swedish DJ/producer Avicii. Part of Blacc’s appeal remains that his best songs feel honest – real. The other piece of the puzzle is that he genuinely seems like one of the nicest dudes on the planet.

“Can you believe this is my job?” he mused before launching into “You Make Me Smile.” “I get to do this. I get to wake up in the morning and sing to people.”

At set’s end, Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” got an extreme makeover, morphing into a smoldering slow jazz, while the recession blues of “I Need a Dollar” had the bungalow’s backyard bumping. If early returns on the new album hold, Blacc won’t be playing for a crowd this small again anytime soon.

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