Live Review: Theo Kandel

The Mint  Los Angeles, CA 

Web: theokandel.com

Contact: [email protected]

Players: Theo Kandel, guitar, vocals; Ben Pleasant, guitar, vocals, Jimmy Berry, keyboard, vocals; Julian Shaw, bass, vocals; Rafael Vidal, drums

Material: Theo Kandel’s music is very country/pop with extra sprinkles of pop scattered over the top. The songs are very well written and encompass a professional attitude. The first tune, “How Could Anybody,” had a religious undertone that brought out the goodness in everyone. Repeated chants of “Oh my god, I’ve fallen for you” transported the audience to a church pew asking for forgiveness after a long night of partying. Juicy hooks and meaningful, sometimes funny lyrics, add to Kandel’s stage persona and help draw the audience into his world. 

Musicianship: All the players were superb musicians. “I Don’t Want to Think About That” brought out Pleasant’s guitar skills as he slid all over the fretboard playing soothful, soulful slide. Not sure why, but that song brought out a Monkees vibe (Hey, Hey, it’s the Monkees!) as it was being played, probably because it was upbeat and happy. Ben Pleasant and Jimmy Berry combined to make the background vocals a big part of all the songs. They crooned together to smooth out the wrinkles and added a layer of personal goodness to each song.

Performance: A great show. All the players had great stage presence and Kandel acknowledged the audience as if they were family. He told stories of how the songs developed and at one point asked the crowd for advice. “Fixer Upper” is a prime example of how Kandel takes a simple, personal situation and turns it into a cool song. A song about looking at homes in an area that’s unaffordable, but was still a lot of fun. This song also brought out Vidal’s superb drumming.

Summary: Kandel’s tunes are extremely melodic and it doesn’t take much to start liking them and imagining them in your personal play list. These guys are fun to watch and it didn’t hurt that the songs were altogether likable. Shaw and Berry were subtle in their play, but they proved to be the most important part of the evening. Shaw, Berry and Vidal laid the foundation onto which Kendal and Pleasant could express their impromptu gifts. Now, that’s talent.