Allen Stone’s Thanksgiving Eve show at 9:30 Club was full of gratitude. Touring ahead of the release of his fourth album (release date, TBA), the soulful Washingtonian—the state of—performed soulful favorites and new singles “Brown Eyed Lover,” “Taste Of You,” and “Warriors.”
Allen Stone admits that he got into music as a way to impress girls and that his introduction to Stevie Wonder was a life-changing moment. His lyrics still reflect his romantic side and his sounds continues to bear heavy influences of 70s R&B, soul, and funk. One of the clearest examples of Wonder’s influence throughout the night was “Voodoo,” a funk-inflected tribute to the magic Stone’s now-wife worked in the kitchen when she made him and his producer arancini while he was writing 2015’s Radius.
Stone said an energetic DC crowd made it easier to be away from home for the holiday as he transitioned into “Love Where You’re At,” a simple song that the crowd joined in on as the band dropped out. In response to the crowd’s vocal support, he said, “It’s great to have so many of my friends come out to hear me play music the day before I stuff my mouth so full I won’t be able to leave the recliner.”
Allen Stone always seems to be smiling. His music and demeanor are overwhelmingly positive, but, as he started the brooding track “Circle,” he admitted that he has darker times too--with anxiety, self-doubt, and pain. He made a plea to anyone in the crowd who may be struggling to reach out and talk to someone.
The mood quickly turned brighter and more romantic again with the performance of an unreleased song, “Give You Blue,” which he wrote for his wedding, just six weeks before the show. He closed out his set with what was arguably his breakout single, “Unaware,” from Stone’s independently released self-titled album from 2011. He then came back for a brief encore with a cover of “Message in a Bottle” by The Police and “Warriors,” his most recent release.
Nick Waterhouse opened for Allen Stone with a similar throwback R&B sound. “Katchi,” from his 2016 album Never Twice, featuring modern soul superstar Leon Bridges, was a clear standout of the set. Waterhouse’s band was an early highlight of the evening. Waterhouse’s baritone saxophone player, Paula Henderson, instantly won over the crowd with her floral pattern pantsuit, dark glasses, and booming low-end solos.