SafetySuit (9:30 PM)

Connell Cruise (8:30 PM)

Fri, February 5, 2016

8:00 pm

Adv Tix $15.00 / Day of Show Tix $18.00

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SafetySuit - (Set time: 9:30 PM)
When we last saw Safetysuit, the Nashville-based band was supporting 2008’s Life Left To Go and hit single “Stay,” which shot to No. 1 on the voter-generated VH1 Top 20 Countdown. Spotlighted by VH1 as a band “You Oughta Know,” the group toured endlessly, playing over 200 shows and selling more than 500,000 singles along the way.

They’re raising the stakes with THESE TIMES (Universal Republic), a scintillating hookfest of arena-ready rock anthems, offering unequivocal proof that the group has the goods to break wide open. Working with producers Howard Benson, Espionage (the New York-based Norwegian team of Espen Lind and Amund Bjørklund) and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, these four skilled and remarkably self-assured musicians have cooked up a strikingly melodic, sharply drawn, viscerally immediate album filled with songs that stick in the head and heart.

For a young band, SafetySuit—singer/guitarist Doug Brown, Tate Cunningham, bassist Jeremy Henshaw and guitarist Dave Garofolo—has a remarkable sense of songwriter savvy. “I do the writing,” Brown confirms, “but until we get Dave, Jeremy and Tate’s heads around the songs, they’re just songs, they’re not SafetySuit songs. When they get hold of them, they become ours, and that’s what makes us special—the four of us, not just one guy.”

After cutting a half an album’s worth of material in Nashville last spring, the band had a shocking collective realization—neither the song nor the performances, they concluded, met their lofty standards. “We’d been going nonstop for three years, and were burned out,” says Brown. “We just had to get away from it for a little bit, live life and gain some perspective. So we actually threw away the hard drives containing the tracks we’d done and started all over again.”

It didn’t take long for something fresh to manifest itself. Brown headed to New York to toss around ideas with the guys from Espionage, who were riding high after co-writing and producing Train’s massive hit, “Hey Soul Sister.” “They played me a really interesting chord progression,” Doug recalls, “and I started spontaneously singing along with it, [sings] /Take me back yesterday/I swear it on your life.’ They saw that I was in a zone, and they said, ‘Go into this room and just be by yourself for a while.’ A half hour later, I came out and said, ‘What if we came around at the end and went [sings], ‘We can get around this, get around this’” They were like, ‘OK, let’s start recording.’ It was really that quick. If you catch an emotional moment in the writing process, one sentence, one word, can fire off an entire song in a matter of minutes. The best songs practically write themselves. It’s all about tapping into a feeling and letting those emotions take over.”

That song, “Get Around This” (the first single from the new album) set the bar sky-high for Brown and his bandmates, and in the following months they challenged themselves to hit consistently on the rarefied level Brown and Espionage had established. Brown went straight from New York to Bahrain to play some military shows with the band around the Fourth of July holiday last year, During that trip, totally out of his element, he wrote “a slew of songs,” several of which wound up on the album. In September, he got together with a talented friend, OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, in the latter’s Colorado studio, which yielded “Let Go.” “I love that song,” says Doug, “because it’s such a departure for us. Ryan is obviously a very pop-minded producer, so I said, ‘Let’s have fun with it; let’s do something that’s not the norm.’ It turned out great, and it kills live. It’s very interactive and people get it right away.”

A second get-together with Espionage resulted in “Things to Say,” while the band self-produced “Staring at It,” a fist-pumper with an incendiary chorus, and “Life in the Pain.” They cut five songs with Benson in L.A. this March: “Never Stop,” “One Time,” “Believe,” “Stranger (Say It)” and the poignant “These Times,” which functions as the album’s thematic centerpiece.

“It was written out of a social need,” Brown says of this powerful, zeitgeist-capturing anthem. “As a band, we were talking a lot about the songs on the record, and obviously, a lot of songs are gonna be about relationships, love and loss; that’s the most common emotion people have. But as we were looking at the track, we felt like something was missing: what the pulse of the nation is right now. When we started thinking and talking about that, ‘These Times’ sprang out of that. The chorus goes, ‘Sitting alone here in my bed/Waitng for an answer I don’t know that I’ll get/I cannot stand to look in the mirror I’m failing.’ You just get tired of being on the short end of the stick; I think a lot of people feel that way. There’s a lot of people out there who would kill to just have a job so they can provide for their families. It’s tough, man—it’s tough for people, and that sucks. But we didn’t want to leave it at that, so we wrote, ‘These times are hard/But they will pass,’ and that’s important to remind people of. We’ve made it out of bad times before, and we’ll make it out again.”

At the other extreme is the intensely personal “Never Stop,” an unguarded expression of romantic devotion. “The best songs ride the line between vulnerability and too much information, where you take it to the maximum amount of vulnerability before you start weirding people out,” Brown asserts, punctuating the statement with a laugh. “I think ‘Never Stop’ does that, and I think any woman who’s with someone they love wants to hear him say, ‘I’m never gonna get used to you.’”

Despite the fact that the band interacted with three producers, each possessing a particular approach, the album comes across as a thoroughly unified piece of work. “What I loved about all of them is that they were all like, ‘Where do you want to take it and how can we help you to get there?’” Brown says of Benson, Espionage and Tedder. “But you’ve gotta go into it knowing where you want it to go in the first place.”

This hard-hitting yet life-embracing album strikingly displays SafetySuit’s singular sound and style as well as the clarity of the band’s vision. That vision was sufficiently present on the first album and the hundreds of performances that followed it to bring them a loyal, enthusiastic fanbase—one that is about to undergo exponential growth. SafetySuit is an extremely confident, distinctly American unit right on the brink of establishing itself as a band that matters.
Connell Cruise - (Set time: 8:30 PM)
Connell Cruise
Connell Cruise knows how to connect with an audience. The South African singer-songwriter has a smile to brighten any room and an attitude to match. Charismatic and modest, Connell has a boyish sense of curiosity and a love for life that has seeped into his music. He writes energetic, catchy songs that exude positivity and maturity and says that, "just to be able to make music – that's the most incredible dream."

Despite his bashful charm, Connell is no stranger to success. After being discovered locally by David Gresham Records, he released his South African debut in 2013 and received three South African Music Award nominations the following year. In early 2014, a beautiful cover version of Avicii's hit Wake Me Up landed him the #1 spot on the South African iTunes charts. "It's been only a short while" he says of his success, "and it's all been so incredible. I feel so lucky"

But Connell isn't just lucky - he's talented too. In April 2014, a social media frenzy surrounding the iTunes release of his single Into the Wild attracted the attention of iconic global label Island Records, to which Connell is now signed. Working with a cast of renowned collaborators including Ido Zmishlany (who wrote Shawn Mendes' smash hit Life of the Party), One Direction hit maker John Ryan, fellow singer-songwriter Teddy Geiger and American Authors member James Shelley, Connell (having just released his debut international EP) is writing and recording an upcoming Album.

Connell was born in a suburb of Johannesburg to a very musical family. His grandmother, a well-known performer in Spain, had each of her grandchildren learn a performance art at a young age. "It was a kind of rite of passage for us," he remembers. "My grandmother loved music and performance and wanted us to experience that rush as well." For Connell, she selected the piano; classical training began on his fourth birthday, and years of practice would eventually earn him a qualification from Trinity College, London.

Growing up in his tightknit household, Connell was exposed to a wide variety of musical genres and styles. On a given day his family would listen to countless different types of music: his grandmother's Spanish flamenco would play followed by Nat King Cole or Bing Crosby and then Sting or Supertramp. "It was a musical melting pot," he says fondly. This blending of styles helped Connell's music evolve into a fresh, multi-faceted pop sound.

Infectious instrumental riffs and accessible lyrics highlight the pop sensibility of his tracks. His songs are catchy, but also memorable on a deeper level. Connell manages to incorporate the nuances of the various genres he grew up loving along with the rhythms and sounds so essential to South Africa's rich musical heritage. "I never really realized how special it is" admits Connell about his native land. "There are 11 official languages and so many distinct cultures – it's amazing to hear all the different dialects and witness how different groups approach life and music." After leaving home and moving to New York City in July 2015 Connell says he's really come to appreciate growing up in such a dynamic environment.

Into the Wild features African-inspired drumbeats and background vocals that are both playful and powerful. His vocals shift from intricate belts and trills to smooth, simple phrases. He pulls back at just the right moments, never detracting from the melody or lyrics. The song is anthemic in its message: dive in, take risks, enjoy life. It's a credo Connell lives by.

While personal experiences inform his lyrics, Connell also seeks inspiration from his immediate surroundings. He frequents coffee shops and shopping malls and listens to bits of conversations. "It's so interesting," he says. "There will be a couple breaking up at one table and at the next someone talking about finding true love. I enjoy seeing how people deal with this crazy, beautiful life. I aim to capture that and put it to music." This process has led Connell to become a true Romantic. He believes in magic and is constantly writing or doodling in the notebook he never leaves behind. Ultimately, says Connell, "I write about girls and how I'd like them to feel about me."

The last year has been a wild ride, but Connell remains humble and grounded. He writes songs with his friends back home and still enjoys the challenge of learning classical pieces. He's excited for the future, but is making sure to stay in the present. "I'm enjoying every minute," he says. "I promise to really make the most of every second."
Venue Information:
9081 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90069

All lineups and times subject to change