Review: An Exuberant Night with Cory Wong and Friends

Last year at Sacred Rose, in the middle of thunderstorm cancellations and the hot sun beating down, I had the chance to see Cory Wong perform for the first time. Instantly I was enthralled by just how much fun he was having on stage. He and his huge band just radiated good vibes and everyone within earshot was grooving along to his brand of eclectic songs. Everything from funk, jazz, pop, rock and countless more genres are blended together to make Wong's sound as incredible as it is. Last week at the Riviera Theatre, I had the chance to see and hear the Cory Wong experience again but this time it featured some special treats including touring partner Victor Wooten, openers the Trousdale, and a special appearance from Howard Levy.

Trousdale came to the stage ready to dazzle the sold out Riviera and it took practically no time to do that. Clad in pink, blue and green jumpsuits (of which allusions to the Powerpuff Girls cannot be denied) and armed with beautiful harmonies, Trousdale hit the ground running with a fantastic set of folky pop songs. While their brighter songs were a pleasure to hear and made quick fans, it's tracks like "Wouldn't Come Back" that give a deeper look into the group's talents. The gentler song about a collapsed relationship and the determination to move on offered up a great lasting memory before they left the stage.

When the lights finally went down and Cory Wong's band made their way to their spots, there was an undeniable buzz going throughout the room. Everyone was ready for the main event and Cory Wong was sure to deliver. As the instruments warmed up and the crowd anticipation hit a new peak, Cory Wong slowly began to descend from the rafters. That is until his fall sputtered and then rapidly hit the ground. To those unprepared it could have been seen as an accident, but to everyone else they knew exactly what was coming. The music went on as he limped to his spot on center stage, before letting the facade crash down just like he did mere moments before, and began a two- hour set that refused to let up.

I've been lucky to have witnessed some amazing shows recently where the showmanship matched the high bar of the music and this Cory Wong show just kept upping the ante. Wong is a ball of energy making sure he hits every spot of the stage. Whether he's vibing with his band, jumping up on their elevated platforms, or getting as low as he can as he jams out on his guitar, Wong just needs to get it out and in the process deliver a fantastic show.

The night at the Riviera featured tons of specials moments. There were of course the tour staples like bringing out Trousdale for multiple songs or subbing out their instruments for ones that could fit in a carry-on bag. the latter of which was preceded by an entertaining story of traveling with such a big band with instruments that surely could not fit in carry-on bags. Of course this tour's special guest and collaborator Victor Wooten made for a splendid second half of the night, as did the addition of his Flecktones band mate Howard Levy.

It all felt like a nonstop variety hour, something that truly scratched every musical itch the crowd could ask for. Wong and crew traversed his discography, covers, and beyond with unrelenting ease and talent. Wooten's bass added another layer on an already complex band set and highlighting Levy's harmonica throughout multiple tracks only made the night better.

If you ever have the chance to see Cory Wong perform, take it. Don't hesitate. Even without the special guests and unique moments, you're sure to find a damn good show that will sure leave you with a smile as big as mine and the rest of the crowd at the Riviera Theatre that night.

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Julian Ramirez