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James Vincent McMorrow @ The El Rey - Los Angeles, CA - June 15, 2011

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By:Pete Rappaport

james vincent mcmorrow, civil war, el rey, vagrant recordsWednesday night while the rest of Hollywood was over checking out The Flaming Lips second night at Hollywood Forever Cemetery show, I was at the El Rey watching James Vincent McMorrow open up for the Civil Wars. There's something special when an artist steps on a stage with just their guitar these days. So many artists, and not that I am against it, step on stage with all their electronic equipment to add in extra background effects with their guitar. James stepped out into a softly lit stage at the El Rey and took the crowd into a trance from the first echo of his voice. The El Rey has always been a favorite venue of mine from the minute I moved into my first apartment down the street over 5 years ago. My favorite shows were the super intimate, dimly lit shows, and this one was no different. James' voice which I originally compared to the likes of Bon Iver, which still holds true, shed light on another musical comparison at certain notes, Jeff Buckley. I know this is no easy comparison, as Buckley's voice was one of a kind, but McMorrow's voice draws the crowd silent and captivated everyone in the El Rey without a doubt. My favorite part of the show was when JVM unplugged his guitar, stepped away from the mic, and sang what is my favorite song off his album, If I Had a Boat. I can't remember the last time that I saw an artist do that, abandoning all the electronic sound carrying devices, and just singing unplugged. It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, as he closed the night out before the Civil Wars would come on. I didn't stick around for that part, how could I, nothing was going to be like what James Vincent McMorrow just dropped on the packed El Rey. Plus, I was there to see him anyways, not the opener. It's not everyday that happens. Check out his tour, if he hasn't already come through your city, make sure you get your tickets now. Special thanks to Jamie from Vagrant Records for helping make all of this happen.

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