Saturday, October 17, 2009

When cool things happen at strange places: Mayer Hawthorne at the Westfield Mall

They’d been promoting it for weeks, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world: Ann Arbor, MI’s new soul sensation Mayer Hawthorne, performing a free concert at the Westfield Mall in Culver City, CA, as part of a KCRW promotion.

I when I say mall, the Westfield shopping plaza is of the classic mall of your youth variety. An endless maze of multi-leveled consumer madness, my buddy Tony Pierce tells me Westfield was originally built as something of a buffer to keep the people from southern L.A. from raiding the Beverly Center.

The stage was set up in the ‘Dining Terrace’ area. When I arrived, Garth Trinidad was spinning some tunes. A few people were seated in the about 200 folding chairs set up in front of the stage. I quickly grabbed a second row seat on the aisle.

By the time Mayer and his band the County hit the stage, there were a few hundred people amassed to see them play. There were a few hipsters, lots of random shoppers, and some cool families—a real polyglot of people. It was a classic mall scene.
Hawthorne and his band rocked it. They played a majority of the songs from his debut album “A Strange Arrangement.” They also slipped in a couple of nice covers – “Fall in Love” by Slum Village and “Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra.

Dude was charming and smooth, and had the mall rocking pretty nicely for most of the set. It was bizarre and kind of random, but in the end it was really, really cool.