by Brianna Anderson
Anyone who has ever been to an Allen Stone concert knows the audience cannot resist the urge to get up and dance. Whitworth students piled into the Hixson Union Building Friday night to hear the R&B/soul singer perform with his band.
Senior Jesse MacDonald warmed up the crowd with his harmonica, rhythmic guitar and vocals before introducing the night’s main attraction. He explained that Stone would be disappointed if the audience did not dance. And indeed when Stone came on the stage to perform, he encouraged students to dance by splitting the crowd in half for a dance-off between the two sides.
“It was totally rad,” junior Britta Howard said. “This was my first time hearing him; it was groovy, and we all got our funk on.”
Stone’s music style is a compilation of R&B, gospel and soul. Looking at Stone’s curly blond hair and wide-rimmed “Steve Urkel” glasses, together with his choice of unique cardigans and red pants, one would never guess the sound that comes out of his mouth when he sings. Stone’s vocal range is comparable to artists such as James Brown and Stevie Wonder.
Stone’s latest full-length, self-titled album was released Oct. 3. On his Facebook event page, Stone wrote, “Here it is. One of the most amazing, rewarding, exciting, and invigorating moments of any artists’ career, to have an album release to the masses.”
With more than 2,800 friends on Facebook and 490 attending the event posted on his band page, Stone has already reached audiences of mass proportion. He has come a long way from singing in his father’s congregation in Chewelah, Wash. The small town has a population of 2,000 people. According to The Spokesman Review, Stone’s new album was No. 3 on the iTunes R&B/Soul charts.
“Allen has a very unique sound that I think a lot of people can learn to love no matter what kind of genre you’re into,” junior Josethe Schatz said.
Schatz and Stone both grew up in Chewelah, Wash., and went to school together. She said Stone was always putting on skits, especially during Homecoming. At the time, he had his own comedy act. It wasn’t until after high school that she saw him perform music live. Schatz appreciates every aspect of Stone’s music and supported him by attending the concert at Whitworth Friday night.
“I think his music speaks to a level that people can relate to no matter where they’re coming from,” Schatz said.
Stone’s lyricism covers various topics including politics, break ups and relationships, love of life and social trends. For example, in the song “Contact High,” he addressed the obsession this generation has with Facebook and cellphones. Before playing the song Friday night, he said, “Anything that distracts you from the real stuff, get rid of it.”
He said people spend so much time on their phones and other devices that they miss out on the important things right in front of them. In the song, he sang: “Whatever keeps you occupied, whatever gives you contact high, whatever keeps you busy baby, will never make you satisfied … the real treasure that we all see is hiding in plain sight of me.”
“Celebrate Tonight” is another song that took audiences back to the roots of why music is enjoyable. It’s a form of expression and should be used as a way to celebrate life.
“Celebrate tonight, there’s reason to feel right, everyone unite,” Stone sang.
Stone’s love for music was apparent in the way he moved on stage. Like classic performers of the early jazz era, Benny Goodman and Glenn Miller, Stone sometimes faced his band, arms raised; his hands strummed the air with an imaginary conductor’s wand. When the music escalated, he could hardly keep his feet on the ground. His body swayed back and forth, and his arms flailed about rhythmically in connection to the music. The music seemed to course through his body.
“I thought the concert was incredible; it spoke into my soul, straight from those red pants,” freshman Eli Deitz said.
For those who missed Stone’s performance, tune in Wednesday, Oct. 26 to see him perform on Conan at 11/10 p.m. Central.