A few months ago I had the opportunity to see Anderson .Paak in a huge venue with a bright and expansive stage setup that was easily one of the more entertaining shows I’ve seen in a while. It was overwhelming in its beautiful excess. Little did I know that a few months later that enormous show would be eclipsed by an evening at House of Vans. Seriously, stacking up the showmanship of a large show with that of an intimate show can be daunting, but .Paak, The Free Nationals and Kadhja Bonet pulled it off.
Before entering the venue it was obvious just how intense the night would be. The line to enter HOV was the largest that I’ve seen at the venue, looping around the alley and stretching far past the confines of the warehouse. As I met up with friends, security came by and warned the massive queue that the venue only holds 900 and the current line count was around 2600. Despite the news, fans held strong and it’s safe to say a huge portion were turned away.
With two openers ready to set the mood, it’s easy to say Kadhja Bonet started the night off right with her affable songs, slowly but surely getting the excited crowd all the more engaged in the night’s festivities. Bonet’s voice is truly a joy to hear live, delving into her complex cadence that serenaded HOV. The Free Nationals took the stage next with Anderson .Paak introducing them. .Paak hyped his band up perfectly, expressing how excited he was to see them play a set as the Free Nationals for essentially the first time. The result was one of the funkiest, most danceable sets to hit House of Vans that I’ve seen. Parading through instrumental tracks, The Free Nationals had the crowd in the palm of their hands as they later would as the fantastic backing band for Anderson .Paak. During that later set, the Free Nationals would be given the spotlight, with T-Nava eventually dipping his keyboard solo into a medley of iconic tracks including Ginuwine’s “Pony” and Tupac’s “California Love” (switching out West Coast cities for our own).
With such an incredible set up, Anderson .Paak careened on stage and delivered a stunning headlining performance. Diving straight into things with “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance,” .Paak raged at his drumset stationed right in the middle of the stage. The Free Nationals of course joined him for the entirety of the set, completing the band and sound perfectly. As always .Paak was all smiles as he jammed for the comfortably packed, but still sweltering House of Vans.
.Paak exudes charisma and this show in such a small venue was electric. rising heat inside the warehouse be damned, the entire show from start to finish felt like a dance party. Towards the back the crowd seemed to be opening up a pit only for it to turn into a dance circle. Everyone was going full out as the music seemingly pulled it out of them. At one point .Paak’s enthusiasm saw him jump off stage and make his way over to the VIP lounge, cutting through the crowd laughing and rapping his way to the top of the stairs, giving the already intimate experience a closer look at the Best Teef in the Game.
The latter half of the set sent the crowd into a tizzy, with “Bubblin” really lighting a light under the crowd. It’s impossible to not smile as wide as he does while jamming out. Every one felt lucky to see Anderson .Paak ecstatically rocking out, praising the late Mac Miller, and honestly just giving the crowd who waited hours to see him an amazing show.
House of Vans House Parties series has two more shows left! On august 17, a yet-to-be-named Special Guest will curate the evening while Converge will be curating the final night on August 24!