I can honesty and sincerely say
I was witness to one of the greatest performances this day,
.and this I must say,
I have been witness to many a performance leading to this day…
(full disclosure: I may have also been the most beautifully trashed I had ever been…
maybe not, but you understand that level where you feel the truth in all things, and you find beauty in everything, come what may).
It wasn’t but 22 hours earlier that I had even stumbled upon Witt Lowry,
though he’s been on the scene producing lyrical wit with passion and conviction for a decade.
To me, that night, he was my discovery while a recent bout of insomnia set in
and I reached for a dopamine hit from my phone.
Thought I’d take a look at BandsinTown in the hope of finding a relatively inexpensive artist to see
over the next few days at a smaller venue and there he was,
Witt Lowry at The Roxy Theater, another venue I had yet to experience, to the best of my memory.
The name alone had me intrigued, so I checked out a song on Spotify.
Less than a minute in and I knew the purpose of my insomnia…
It would be 24 hours later that I felt the very inspiration I had felt 5 years earlier
while capturing photos for a unique, artistic, and boutique festival on the beaches of Baja
under the name Genius Loci Fest (spirit of place).
All facets of this festival were magic, which we can get into later,
but it was one of the festival hosts and resident headlining DJs that captured my soul,
moving me to rhythms I had never felt in this incarnation, and awakening the me I was meant to be
from the slumber of society’s spell I had fallen under.
a master alchemist of deep house and tribal beats,
unrivaled by any other.
How I felt that night, in that weekend, of that year, 6/24/2018,
I felt yet again 5 years later on the floor of The Roxy 3/31/2023.
This time, I was connecting with the entire crowd who knew and felt every word Witt spit
as if it was their story to tell.
And this is how I felt after, on my bus ride home…
“even if we lived not another day,
this way is exactly how we hope to live each and every fucking day,
that we may say, I motherfucking love the life I lived today.
having gratitude for knees with which to pray.
this, my prayer and this my thanks
offering last drops of gas in all of my tanks.
for what today gave me
by being able to see you
which helps me see me
corrupted by “memory banks”
like is said, it was a helluva night and I was on one…
So another half hour bus ride from East Hollywood into and through West Hollywood
and onto the Sunset Strip.
As I stepped off the bus, it was clear where the concert was, considering the line half a block long
despite the doors being opened about 10 minutes prior to my arrival.
In by 8:22pm and straight to the bar where Nathan poured me a shot of Evan Williams
backed by a can of Pale Ale
which happened to be the least expensive beer since it was a promotional item left over
and priced for quick removal from inventory. I’m all for a deal, though let’s be honest, $9.00 for a 12oz can
is hardly a deal, but this is the game we’ve all somehow agreed to play…
This time, I left my water bottle behind (uber rare) after reading house policies online,
though I’m still completely confused on the reasoning other than wanting to sell plastic encased water
for the price of a case of said water because it is most certainly not to keep us
from throwing our own water bottles at talent,
considering I now have a can and bottle of water that I am not all that attached to…
Joey ByHimself leads off the night with self-written raps while mentioning his producer credit
on Witt Lowry’s Hometown. His flow is smooth, though his set feels very rushed,
but this may have been a byproduct of the setting and behind the scenes things that I know not of.
Aside from the rushed feel, the dude seems very kind and welcoming like a friend, and seems as though
he could be one of your boys, always down shoot the bull over some rips from a bong.
Props to the Bo Jackson jersey he rocked…
Next up, Livingston,
who appears to be any number of East Coast bros wearing pastel Derby Day Vineyard Vines apparel
with a pink whale logo (which I personally love, btw), yet with bangs in eyes, a light windbreaker
and wide-necked white T, this kid came out belting his brand of sincere lyrics and high energy,
high tone vocals that can only be described as belting or yelling,
but with perfect pitch and a magnetic tone.
Livingston’s handful of songs setlist was mesmerizing not only to watch
as he moved around Roxy’s cozy stage, but to hear him wail in the microphone
as you might in your bedroom as a kid, angry at your parents and the world.
I still don’t know how to classify his style, if you need a box with which to encase him in,
but it’s a concoction of ballads, rap, hip-hop, R&B, and punk. I dunno, maybe the kids just call it fire…
That said, and no knock here, but having to run back to his laptop to start the next song
was a bit interesting,
but shit I ain’t complaining, just thought it interesting and notable…
Remember Will Smith’s character in Bad Boys, Mike Lowry and how he’d say it? Mike Low-Ree.
When I’d use an alias, Mike Lowry was always my go to, aside from stealing a nickname
we gave one of our high school best friends, Pico Jones (still my favorite).
And Shaunnessy Roman… Not exactly sure why, but I just loved the feel of that name…
boy, does this dude bring it.
His opener, Doesn’t Feel the Same immediately calls out the haters, meme-makers,
and social media takers (not givers) with lines like, “you lettin’ AI dictate all the thoughts in your head.
The bulk of your followers are bots, so where are your friends?”
and “I put in the work then let the work do the rest”
Nights Like This quickly rolls on the tails of the previous slam jam
and while this song is a bit more of a love song,
the chorus “I wish I could make you love me” is belted out by the entire audience
and I do mean entire to include almost every word in every song played this night
which is truly amazing to watch as Witt empowers his fans and welcomes participation
with microphone pointing toward the crowd as much as it is on himself.
We’re in for show, folks…
Fxcked Up Again, his 3 rd in an already intense set is ineffably charged as it is sung as a conversation
with his now deceased father over his bouts with alcoholism
and the 2 different men he was between sober and fxcked up.
Acknowledging it was a disease to also add bipolar,
this song is endearing and heart-wrenching to feel.
“I’m not your brain, it’s not my place to tell you what is real, all that I can do is try to tell you
is how I fucking feel, stood by you thru it all, don’t ever question if I love you still,
the greatest gift you could ever give me is to fucking heal”
the story of his father doesn’t end with this track though the next is the aforementioned Hometown,
an ode and melody to a small town he left his family behind in,
and only comes back to visit to see his mom even as she contemplates now leaving, herself.
His emotion and love for the memories made, friends lost and gained,
and streets that just don’t feel the same, is familiarly apparent when he choruses the line,
“I know myself less than I know those roads” to add, for many of us who’ve left small towns ourselves,
“I traded oak and maple trees for a couple palms”…
This strikes resoundingly personal as I, myself, come from a small country town of Oakdale
(technically Knight’s Ferry (100 people)) where oak trees, obviously, and likely pines more than maples
are abundant, to now live in the shadow of palms and the City of Angels.
As he continues down memory lane through main street of his hometown,
he offers more insight to why he feels “more like a tourist”
as memories of innocence fade into memory banks, diminished by the cost of interest or lack thereof
when compared to the life he lives now or as he puts it,
“the thief of happiness is when we start to compare”.
A line about this town being where his father passed and “you really don’t know what you’re missing
until you add distance” and you get a rough sense of his confusion in trying to make his hometown feel
like home and the reality that it is the was in that hometown that made it home,
which offers us the reality that we can “cherish where I’m (we’re) from, from afar”.
I guess now would be the time to mention the category of music this might be…
except that I really don’t know how to categorize it,
I don’t know the box with which you need me to use to surround it.
I’ve come to realize that music is but vibration and performance and so very many artists,
while seeming so very opposite, are very clearly the same.
I’ll elaborate more later so it’s more feasible to savor the point being made
when I say the man I saw this night on the Sunset Strip,
a man named Witt, full of divinely inspired wit,
whose music is magic, life otherwise tragic,
but knowing life is meant to be alchemic,
transmutes the pain, which we would otherwise label insane,
to the gold of power from lead of pain.
This man, Witt, is no different than a whole nother genre
some choose to belittle
cuz of a subtle difference between violin and fiddle:
and the man I believe,
the one of which I speak,
is none other than Country’s hottest brother,
Now I posit that folks like Zach Bryan and Witt Lowry are effectively the same
through different frequencies as the Law of Polarity may suggest,
considering the pain to power of their art and the message being sent,
the sincerity and emotion shared, and responses given by fans
who feel more like a communal congregation and family than mere likes and followers.
Furthermore, I’d like to offer a thought that Thrash Metal and Electronic/Deep House/Tribal
mimic this same polarity in the actions and emotions inspired
within their relative listeners and audiences, though we’d have a very difficult time convincing either
to listen to either, much like the difficulty in getting the average Country Music fan
to come to an Emo Rap concert or vice versa…
As for that category, Emo Rap, I’m honestly not sure if Witt falls into it perfectly or not,
but if I must separate and label it, maybe that works for now and side note here,
I sincerely thought I made the name Emo Rap up, only to discover that it is a legit genre… hmm.
Back at it with Fallen, a tribute to a reliable partner in a girlfriend
who “puts making memories over money” which is then opportunely interluded
by a fan’s proposal on stage (she said yes) and subsequently hugged by Witt
and his producer, guitarist, and vocal accompaniment man, Dan Haynes
(whom I would do a rather large disservice to if I didn’t mention the talent
and added effect this man brings to the performance).
This feel-good moment is soon faded by Weak, a love letter written to Witt’s ex-girlfriend,
now with someone new whom he highlights as “he loves you at your high, but me,
I loved you at your lowest” while mentioning her acknowledgment of Witt’s Piscean traits
(I too am a pure Pisces) in oversharing, intense caring, and emotional and sensitive expressiveness
in artistic fashion which to many, translates in a more negative way as “feel too deeply”.
Ces’t le vie, I suppose…
Tiny Shiny Objects and GHOST play well back-to-back as one is a snap back track
toward another or other artists who “live their life for The Gram” while he asks
“if I wouldn’t take your advice why would I take your critique, know what I mean?”
Well, do we? cuz lines like these are meant to be received universally as we proceed
through this life of judgment by others who make you hate it because they don’t love it.
Certainly apropos as a symptom, revealed in titled track line,
“you say you believe in progress, but base your worth on followers and tiny, shiny objects.”
GHOST then feels like, despite his not giving gravity to the haters, that he, in fact,
allowed their worm of doubt into his head as he questions his self-worth,
his relevance after acquiring fame, and what good he offers those who listen.
“am I making a difference with the things I write. just a human, you don’t know the demons I fight”
One, He is no different than the rest of us as we allow self-doubt
to question and sully the good we do daily, even if it’s as simple as smiling at strangers,
giving attention and awareness to an elderly neighbor amidst a droning conversation,
or holding the door without thanks.
Secondly, if you saw what I saw in this crowd or if you just look at a few videos of the folks
who flock to his performances like those to the Wailing Wall, then you’d understand
what good this man brings to all walks of life as he turns the pain in his life to the power of hope
in the hearts of his fans.
No doubt should be given gravity by this man, yet, “I hate what I think in my head.”
don’t we all, brother…
Nearly on bended knee now, tears welling, like many of his fans, Witt scratches out his Last Letter
to his father that he never wrote, as it just never felt right,
before being taken by a growth in his chest.
This too, hits home, and I know for many of you as well.
We love our parents, we truly do, despite any negatives at varying degrees,
but for some weird, indescribable reason, we struggle with telling them,
we struggle with visibly or notably showing them, and rely on the hope that they just know it,
without us having to show it. I love my parents as they are just about the best, they truly are,
yet, I am so uncomfortable with giving and showing them love
though I can tell a near total stranger how much I love them.
We find that its those who know us the best, and effectively the closest humans to our heart,
are the very same that we have the most difficulty letting in…
I dunno, maybe it’s just me…and Witt Lowry,
but I doubt that.
“and now of all our demons, our biggest might be regret.”
I called my mother then next day to apologize for being such a bastard…
Sticking with the lack of raucous anarchy that has characterized previous and ensuing songs,
Witt, in spoken form, speaks directly to us, quoting the opening of Somewhere in Between
“I miss when people saw me as a person and not as a product of what I create.
I wish that we were encouraged to critically think, instead they just label you crazy.
Now I know if I start getting too deep on a track there’s no way the playlist will play me.”
“how many of you state your name or your job when they ask who you are?”
While having a chance to go back and listen to this song in its entirety,
it became one of my favorites among many now favorites, but the rest was cut short
as it leads into the multi-platinum hit, Into Your Arms,
and back to full contact dancing and choreography by Witt and Dan Haynes,
engaging fully with an effervescent crowd, bouncing and screaming every beat and lyric in sync.
Closing in on the end of an epic performance, I find myself feeling how I feel
when watching a great movie I don’t want to end, but knowing it must
as “nothing gold can stay” (Robert Frost).
The Rise, another vicious and lyrically biting bit about artists who sing songs written by others
while taking the credit they may not deserve and shit-talkers looking for fame
“I make art, you make memes, bitch, we are not the same.”
And lastly, in collaboration with Livingston who comes back out with that hollering voice,
Witt Lowry closes his regular set with “The War I’m Scared to Face”, a song about his grandfather
and the battle many face when dealing with the ever increasing scourge of Dementia.
What a way to go out, immemorably memorable…
Yet, if you know anything about live music, you must know that the party ain’t over
till the house lights come on, and they did not come on…
When the lead in for Hurt rolls through the now heavy fog,
the energy and excitement provided by the crowd hoping to hear this track
is something I won’t soon forget as you hear multiple people say, “yea, this is it”
followed by screams and cheers.
The sheer energy and sincerity given by this man in his lyrical flow,
the intensity and connection he brings to all his actions and songs
is more spiritually dense than I could ever express
or give the proper credit due
and can only be experienced in person
with his beingness and those who love him
on display and in view…
I am still processing what I experienced in the magic of this alchemist,
and his poetic potion over an emotionally charged ocean
of people in a concert crowd.
This is what it means to perform a concert:
full participation of those who love an artist, who perform in concert with the artist and art.
.get him in your life
This man speaks my language. This man.
I know nothing about him aside from his words and now his actions, and damn.
Lyrical spiritual magician.
An alchemist of life…
turning the pain of his experience to gold of art and wisdom for ALL.
It must be clear by now how much I can now define myself with Witt Lowry’s art.
fuck music at this point, this is art.
because it is you now, then, here, back then,
and forever more.
on a separate note, but tangentially adventurally adjacent,
this is the youth.
time for the rest of us to relate,
to acknowledge and accept,
then forgive for not being what we were,
what we did, how we did it,
and all the Monday morning quarterbacking to help us regret it.
then forgive self for not wanting to swallow our pride in just loving on our parents,
our friends, and all those adjacent.
all those judgments can easily be erased,
knowing our lives are programmed like those who are maced
for standing up to the man, to society, and our friends
who think we’re crazy
for being the awkward fuck we fucking are when they think we take ‘normal’ too far
because it’s clear we are who we are when we dabble in the dark and make light from the depths
like the twinkle of a star.
we are what we are when we innocently run and play in the light of day,
amidst the mist of what we create when we relate our past dates to today’s date.
just live the you, you have created today
and all days leading up to today, for today is the day we were saving,
the day we are creating
when we become the being that’s amazed by the amazing.
as humbled children are those allowed into heaven,
it is you that can be the ewe in youth given grace,
humble and amazed by the amazing, if only you can live today,
in the here and now,
as Ram Dass showed us how.
the moment we define our past
by the present time opened,
we give grace to trespasses and begin to live in this moment,
given the gift of the present.
bear the unbearable and be the present,
for the present is why we are here,
the present is what we hear ��.
that is the awareness we speak of and seek,
devoid of the fear of the far, and the near,
or the me in the mirror…
we are what we love.
we are what we aware of
and awareness is truth.
more awareness, more truth
and the key to life we shall be
when truth thru awareness we seek.
herein lies the P.S.
forgive your oppressor.
have compassion for the why in the who they are
for more often than not, you are your oppressor,
bound by fear and loathing
or by simply allowing others to control your emotions…
Follow Livingston @livinston
Follow Joey ByHimself @joeybyhimself
Follow Massio @massiomusik
Follow Zach Bryan @zachlanebryan
Follow The Roxy Theatre @theroxy
Follow Witt Lowry Online:
Born city, raised country, west coast to east coast and back again. B.A., M.B.A., then back to LA,
lending to a love of capturing moments given any lens, and the adoration of all music, especially experienced live,
where this moment-capturing poet jives and thrives.
work in progress, y’all
[a part of the Founders Yonder Collective (FYCmoments)]