Other than the sartorial choices of their frontpersons — strangely, each wore a vinyl letterman’s jacket — there wasn’t a lot of musical common ground Tuesday night at the Troubadour, where electro-soul singer Bishop Briggs and rock trio Blacktop Queen got their feet wet in the historic West Hollywood venue.
It was more of a showcase than a show; neither artist has been around for more than a year, and their respective catalogs are not deep. Hence, eight songs from headlining Bishop Briggs, six from the opener and, bang, you’re on your way home imagining either playing arenas or stadiums.
Which will happen sooner than later for Bishop Briggs, she of the breakout singles “Wild Horses,” “River” and “The Way I Do” (in the order they’ve been released in the past seven months). Later this year, she’ll open some dates for Coldplay, including Aug. 21 at the Rose Bowl, where her snap-trap-clap-gospel-blues could very well have thousands straining to hit the notes she hits, the way she hits them.
Hers is full-throated soul that shouldn’t be tried outside of your shower, not that the crowd at the Troubadour didn’t try. Backed by a band that included producer/co-writer Ian Brendon Scott, Bishop Briggs took the stage at 10 p.m. almost shyly, looking like a railbird at a jock-rock show who suddenly was invited to sing with the band. She dove into “The Way I Do” and “Wild Horses” before performing five unreleased songs, all of them variations on themes of wounded love.
After “Be Your Love,” “Hi Lo (Hollow)” and “Mercy,” the L.A.-via-London songstress delivered her biggest punches. “You’ve got more bones than a graveyard” and “There’s more love in a dead man’s arms,” she sang on “Dead Man’s Arms,” the most memorable of the bunch. On “Pray,” she wailed about building an emotional wall, “when all this pain is gone / when all this blood has run.”
All powerful stuff, delivered with little banter save for thanks-for-being-here, and at 35 minutes, over too soon.
L.A.-based power trio Blacktop Queen’s six-song set was bookended by their first single, “Spiderbite,” and their most recent, “Blackout.” Their brawny guitar rock, with its ’90s-vintage bombast and massive choruses, won over the crowd as frontman Evan Ambrose got more active, darting to the stage’s edges to unleash the shreddy bits.
Photos by Michelle Shiers