Rising artist, songwriter, and producer Zack Villere premiered his new album in San Diego for his first ever tour.
Despite artists claiming that they consider their fans to be friends, realistically, we know this not to be true. There is a constant barrier that separates the two groups. This can come in the form of stage fences that separate the crowd from the performer, or can be symbolic, if the artist is no longer relatable to their listeners. No matter how this barrier exists, this restraint disconnects the musician from their listeners to some degree.
This wasn’t the case with Zack Villere. His show felt like a jam out session between a laid-back musician and his friends in the basement of his parents house while an unsupervised younger sibling chugged some beers in the corner. This is both amazing and not so great. On one hand, it was extremely refreshing to be so connected to the performer, as there was absolutely nothing separating the stage from the fans. Villere was close enough to the audience to be a part of it, and this lack of physical separation erased the “performer-listener” roles entirely from the concert.
His set was more focused on everybody simply having a good time and vibing out to the music, rather than worrying about nuances in the performance itself. The modest amount of audience members in the room also contributed to the intimate atmosphere. Villere continuously engaged in lighthearted jokes and conversation with his fans who didn’t feel the need to shout for his attention. Instead of the aggressive behavior exhibited at many concerts where fans fight to get noticed, the listeners in the room remained fairly respectful to Villere and to each other; we all gathered in a tight-knit circle around the stage to support a relatively underground artist whom we all believed in.
However, despite the cozy familiarity of the show and the praise for the intimacy of the performance, the actual set did not go perfectly. Some songs were restarted from the beginning due to mistakes made in the middle of the performance. This in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the amount of times that songs had to be performed again made it become an issue. One of the songs off of his new album was stopped and repeated five times before Zack and Alex Szotak, his guitar bassist, finally got it right. The show felt unprepared, and the level of professionalism present within this show fell a few notches lower than what would have been expected from a larger artist.
Despite this criticism, I still believe Zack Villere performed well given the circumstances: This was the first show on the first stop of his first tour, and performance is something that an artist learns from experience. There are so many unseen factors that go into performing, such as sound technology, the obvious nerves from playing in front of a collective group of strangers, and simply unaccounted for issues with anything else. Underground artists like him pave the way for other indie artists to break the standard for what music is, and reshape music for what it could be. It is precisely musicians like Villere who break the long-rooted idea that music has to be manufactured with financial restraints in order to be successful. His unpolished yet catchy sounds are what make him stand out in the midst of overproduced songs from major record labels. His appeal is in his reliability and accessibility. His tracks sound more like they were created in GarageBand in his bedroom rather than in a professional multi-million dollar studio. The answer to why his simple melodies and lo-fi beats need no further introduction is simple. His talent speaks for himself.
His recognition is the start to greater inclusivity and more diverse sounds within the world of music. That night in the House of Blues, as we simultaneously sang along to the hits we knew, and quietly listened to those off of his unreleased album “Cardboard City” that we were not yet acquainted with, we were all witness to what I know to be the start of Villere’s promising career.
Venue: Voodoo Room at House of Blues
Date: Feb. 7, 2020
Photos courtesy of Hemmy Chun.