La Brie’s Bar in Glendale, formerly the Scene, played home to Foo Fighters’ lead guitarist, Chris Shiflett, on the last leg of his solo tour that spanned up and down the West Coast, but it was his opening act, folk singer-songwriter Audra Mae, who blew the moderate-sized crowd away with her strong and soulful voice and lyrics.
With a single guitar chord, the Oklahoma native who wrote the only original track off Susan Boyle’s debut album, â€œI Dreamed a Dream,â€ hushed the crowd and sang â€œThe River,â€ a poignant song about sin and regret. She soon moved on to a cover of the BeeGees’ â€œTo Love Somebody,â€ but not before singing â€œThe Fable,â€ a song about â€œwolves in love,â€ complete with beautifully crafted howls in between lyrics.
In between songs, she was relatable and charming, telling the crowd that her EPs and shirts for sale were â€œcheap as hell.â€
Her charisma and character shined through this dimly lit hip bar on Colorado Street.
As she eloquently belted out lyrics like â€œit’s lucky that my skin tastes like milk and honey, my love is sweeter than money.â€
Reminiscent of a cross between singers Neko Case and Adele, Mae is the grand-niece of Judy Garland, was recently signed to SideOneDummy Records and is best known for her cover of â€œForever Youngâ€ heard on FX’s â€œSons of Anarchy.â€
On this particular night, however, wearing jeans and a tank top, Mae was just a girl with her guitar, her lyrics echoing lives lived and loves lost â€” notions that the crowd related to judging by their overwhelming applause and cheers.
After Mae finished her set, Shiflett strutted out with a hat, plaid shirt and a full beard, springing right into his first song. Shiflett let the audience know that his aunt was supporting him that night, apologized for any â€œimproper lyrical contentâ€ before continuing on with his set. Although his first three songs weren’t necessarily distinguishable from one another, his strong guitar skills shined during â€œTrigger Happy,â€ a song originally sung with Shiflett’s punk rock side project, Jackson United.
Halfway through his set, he invited childhood friend Marko DeSantis, lead guitarist from the rock band Sugar Cult, for a duet of â€œYou Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory,â€ originally released by ex-New York Dolls member Johnny Thunders.
The two musicians showcased not only their talents and showmanship, but their genuine love of music with a solid cover, while Shiflett also invited Mae onstage for the ultimate crowd pleaser of the night: a cover of Willie Nelson’s â€œMamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.â€
With Mae’s beautiful vocal range accompanied by Shiflett’s on-point musical support, it was a heartfelt tribute that left the crowd wanting more. Unfortunately, Shiflett’s set came to an end soon after, with Joe Strummer’s â€œBurning Lights,â€ a fitting way to end the acoustic, mellow evening.
Performed by Strummer in the 1990 Aki Kaurismaki film, â€œI Hired a Contract Killer,â€ the song complemented Shiflett’s solo style, as well as the discreet venue. As the night came to an end, a throng of converse-wearing, Foo Fighter-loving fans applauded Shiflett and Mae for a great, low-key set.
About the writer LIANA AGHAJANIAN is a journalist covering arts, culture, news and more for print and online publications in Los Angeles and beyond.