Sometimes less is more, or so the saying goes. Last night at the 7th Street Entry was definitely a case of that, in every sense of the of the saying. No gimmicks, nothing contrived or over the top, just an evening of beautifully raw music with Cameron Avery and Omar Velasco. It was a small crowd on Tuesday night inside the already intimate 7th Street but no one seemed to mind, Omar Velasco and Cameron Avery included, but rathered played into in the intimate crowd. Avery was spotted watching Velasco’s set and vice-versa. During Velasco’s set, Avery even popped to the front of the crowd to help adjust a microphone stand that wouldn’t cooperate. Both Velasco and Avery have played (and currently play), in other projects but these projects seem to be very special to both these artists.
Opening up the evening was Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Omar Velasco. When I walked into The Entry I was greeted by a hauntingly beautiful, stripped back set. Velasco was on stage solo, just his chillingly raw vocals and guitar, and some looping with the pedals. Prior to this solo project, Velasco spent six years as a touring guitarist with A Fine Frenzy and Jonathan Wilson. However, after last night set’s it’s clear that Velasco, though a wildly talented guitarist, is also meant for center-stage. Velasco’s songs are thick with poetic imagery and themes of dreaming, songs that you want to dig down into and live inside. His sound was dripping with influences from a variety of world music, everything from Latin-inspired guitar to Afro-Cuban beats. “I hope you don’t mind some of these songs are in Spanish,” Velasco said, alternating between singing in English and Spanish. I felt like I had stumbled into a backroom in Barcelona as I listened to Velasco, rather than the (endearingly) dingy 7th Street Entry. Cameron Avery joined Velasco on stage for a song towards the end of the set.
Velasco played a roughly 40-minute set which mainly featured tracks off his 2015 album Golden Child, but even that didn’t feel long enough. The small but engaged at The Entry were absolutely enraptured with Velasco and seemingly could have listened to him play all night.
Avery played a roughly-hour set, which featured tracks off that debut album. The sweeping arrangements of his tracks highlight the pure range he has a vocalist, from brooding baritone on Dance With Me to airy falsetto on C’est Toi, though he said he was fighting a cold last night. After watching Avery perform last night, it makes you wonder if behind every quiet bassist or drummer, is a powerhouse like Avery waiting to be let loose on center-stage. There was no shortage of good ol’ banter from Avery either. “Yeah, so I told people today I was playing First Ave, and they were like ohhh, wow, you must be a big deal. And then I was like the other thing – the 7th Street Entry. They weren’t as impressed then,” he joked between songs. The set was the perfect balance of big, bluesy, full-band moments and quiet, crooning moments with Avery on keys or guitar solo. Avery’s gritty, bluesy vocals shined on Watch Me Take It Away, while his witty lyricism takes center stage of songs like Disposable.
“I’m out of songs, and I’m out jokes,” Avery said at the end of his set. After a little nudging from the crowd Avery decided to play an encore. “I’ve actually never played this live before,” Avery said ahead of the unreleased, acoustic track She Meant Everything to Me, which Avery said he wrote when he “was very in love, or maybe after that.” This track will be on his forthcoming-EP Etcetera, which is due out later this year, “I’ll keep working on it for you guys,” Avery said at the end.