With a new EP just out in early February, which I covered here, Kevin Garrett took to the road for his False Hope Tour. Luckily, Metro Detroit was one of the stops on this headlining tour, as the Pittsburgh born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter played the Pike Room in Pontiac on the first day of February. Garrett has played the area a couple times in the last two years, but this was my first time catching him since he opened for Hey Rosetta! at the Ark in Ann Arbor in February of 2015 and the first time I've seen him headline.
The Pike Room is one of my favorite local venues, intimate with a fantastic sound system, shows always sound great here. It did my heart good to walk up the stairs about 30 minutes after doors opened and see the room already fairly packed as I have seen shows there that were the exact opposite of packed. It's good to see Garrett is building the audience he deserves, and let's be honest he deserves to be, and likely will be, headlining much larger spaces in the future. Most of the dates on this tour sold out and Garrett is set to open for Mumford & Sons on their American dates in May, great exposure that will help to build his audience even more.
Opening the night was A R I Z O N A, who naturally with that name formed in Boston and hail from New Jersey. Signed to Atlantic Records in 2015, the band is currently working on their debut album. They actually made for an excellent compliment to Garrett's music. I've seen many a mismatched opener in my day, but A R I Z O N A fit the bill and went over well with the crowd, many of whom were already familiar with tracks like "Cross My Mind", "I Was Wrong" and current single "Oceans Away". The band's music mixes pop and rock with electronics, and they definitely know how to write catchy songs that stick with you. Their set definitely made me want to check out the debut album, whenever it may see release.
With two EP's and a few singles under his belt so far, I anticipated getting to hear all of Garrett's recorded catalog and was not disappointed. This show took place two days before the False Hope EP came out, so it was my introduction to the new songs other than first single "Stranglehold". Kicking off the set was the first song on the EP, the stunning ballad "A Heart Like Yours". "Stranglehold" followed before Garrett went back to his first EP, 2015's Mellow Drama for "Pushing Away" and "Come Up Short".
The new tracks "Little Bit Of You" and "Pulling Me Under" were sandwiched around stand-alone single "Precious" as Garrett continued to mix the new songs with his earlier work. "Coloring" and "Control" from Mellow Drama had plenty of singing along from the audience, much to Garrett's delight who pointed out a couple times how cool it was to have people at his shows singing along and knowing the material. A highlight of the set was his solo take on "Never Knock", just him on the keyboards with the backing band joining at the very end. It's the most lyrically vulnerable song in his catalog and Garrett ended it by going straight into the Sam Cooke classic "You Send Me" solo at the keyboards, a wonderful coda to his gorgeous song. The opening set closed with the closer on the new EP, the ballad "The Way I Keep Myself Together".
After a short exit, Garrett and the band returned and with all of his released material performed, it was easy to guess what would kick off the encore. And sure enough, he did his own version of "Pray You Catch Me", the song he co-wrote and produced for Beyonce's massively successful album Lemonade. The set then closed with Garrett again solo on the keyboards with a ballad that is likely an as yet unreleased song. I've checked the lyrics to see if it was a cover, but so far no luck. New song or cover, it sounded great, as does all of Garrett's material. His mix of electronic, pop and soul is flawless, he sounds as great live as on record, what a voice, and his popularity and fanbase only continues to grow. Catch him in these smaller venues while you still can, if there is any justice in the music world this guy is going to be huge.