Concert Review: George Clanton

Hector Arrieta resuscitated after George Clanton show at the SOMA in San Diego, said to have seen angels and … god?


Hector Arrieta, Arts & Entertainment Editor

I’m sure you have heard of those stories of people temporarily dying, then being resuscitated and being able to recount the entire story. Well, if you haven’t heard of one before, allow me to tell you a bit about mine. On the April 28, in the year of our Lord 2023, I died at 8 p.m. on the floor of the SOMA in San Diego, and spent the next three hours traveling through purgatory and then through heaven, getting to meet two angels and perhaps god himself along the way, in the form of a George Clanton show. 

Prior to my death that night, I had the opportunity to watch Clanton as one of the openers for Yung Bae’s “Continental Groove” tour. Up to that point, I knew George Clanton primarily from my periphery — I knew of him and some of his tracks, but I would be lying if I said I religiously listened to him. However, at the conclusion of his set that day, I knew that I had been missing out on something, and from that point forward, I began to dive deeper into his discography, and I’ve been hooked ever since. There is something extremely captivating about Clanton’s deep, layered vaporwave and electronic sound, often accompanied by his vocals, that keeps me engrossed in a trance state.

Upon my death at the SOMA, I was transported to a dark place, suspended in the air; I awaited the next phase of my soul’s journey. Suddenly, I was greeted by what could only be described as a biblically accurate angel: Brin, George Clanton’s drummer who performed a solo DJ set for the night. I compare Brin to a biblically accurate angel because his performance was beyond my comprehension, leaving me without words much like how Angel Gabriel left Zechariah and the Virgin Mary. Nonetheless, my human brain attempted to describe the indescribable. The sounds that emanated from the speakers varied in multiple styles and tones. At the beginning, the music sounded like someone dropped every pot and pan in the kitchen, combined with a pitter patter of steps sprinkled throughout. Throughout the opening act, a constant thought I had in my head was how Brin’s performance mimicked a tug of war between chaos and serenity. Some parts of his performance were sporadic and chaotic, with harsh, fast, repeating drum kicks, while others were peaceful, at one point making me feel like I was walking through a mystical rainforest as I watched small fairies fall from the trees. By the conclusion of my stay with Brin, it felt like he boarded me onto a spaceship, with sounds that I could best describe as akin to “Sounds of Science 1” from the Spongebob soundtrack. In this ship, my biblically accurate angel determined that I was ready to be taken to heaven’s gate. 

And at the gates of heaven, I was greeted by an angel that is closer to how most people depict angels: Babebee, an electro indie artist from Atlanta. In mainstream media, angels are typically depicted as wearing white robes and halos, but this angel wore a skirt, crochet top, red earmuffs, and glasses. However, this angel still had something in common with mainstream depictions: a voice that lifts you up into the clouds surrounded by a pink aura as she grabs your hand and flies you around. Babebee’s soft and caressing voice was consistent all throughout her music — even when her music would switch from melodic serenades to indie rock — and it was certainly the highlight of her performance to me. She also had the crowd’s attention throughout her entire performance, giving out flowers, showing them her teddy bear Biggie Bear Smalls, telling the crowd to start a “gentle” mosh pit — emphasis on the gentle part — and reminding them to “remember you’re so loved.” Babebee was an unexpected surprise, but surely a welcomed one. Once Babebee was done showing me the gates of heaven, the man himself stepped out: George Clanton. 

A smoke machine filled the stage as Clanton entered with an inflatable alien. I could feel Brin’s drum kit in my chest as he stomped the bass drum. The crowd chanted “George! George! George!” as he stood on stage. The entire room was lit up by strobe lights as he opened with “Living Loose,” and nothing was the same for me from that point. If Brin took me to heaven’s gate and Babebee opened them up for me, then Clanton was a god stepping out from them. Often obscured by smoke or darkness, his appearance would only be revealed by hard white lights often strobing, but at other times completely solid, allowing me to get long glimpses of his face. It was almost as if heaven’s gates were his backlight. It felt almost surreal seeing him that close, and it only became more surreal as he would drop down into the crowd twice and even crowd surf at one point. In my trance state watching Clanton, I allowed myself to be moved by the crowd all throughout the performance, holding up the records I bought prior to the show, and I eventually found myself standing right in front of the view of Clanton. We made eye contact, and he put out his hand like straight out of “The Creation of Adam”; he was asking for my records. I handed them to him, and he looked at each one and bit all of them. Prior to my death, something like this had never happened before — sure, Yung Gravy gave me a rose at his show, but this was different — I never had some of my merch taken during a show by the artist themself. He eventually handed them all back to me and, still in awe, all I could do was stand with my mouth open. Later in the show, the crowd pushed me again to Clanton’s line of sight, who this time signed one of my records. The term “signed” is rather inaccurate as it was more of a random scribble, but a signature from him nonetheless. At this point, nothing else in the show could have ever topped these moments for me, and I completely mentally checked out for the rest of the show. 

But alas, the conclusion of the show arrived, and I was resuscitated, now telling you this story. Although I don’t plan on dying again any time soon — *knocks on wood* — I long to see heaven’s gate once more.


Images courtesy of Jackson Payne for The UCSD Guardian