To say last night’s crowd was pumped for the VH-1’s “You Oughta Know” LA showcase would be an understatement. This show sold out months before, signaling all three of these artists performing (Selah Sue, Passenger and Ed Sheeran) are “on the verge” of stardom in the States. Arriving around 7 PM, the line easily wrapped all the way around the block. Sitting in the lobby before the show, I watched as each pack of gazelles (oh wait, those were Converse sneaker-wearing teen girls) either joined the merch line to get an Ed Sheeran shirt (the line was almost as long as it was to get in all night) or feverishly ran into the venue (much to the dismay of security) to get as good a spot as possible on the floor to watch the show. Hearing comments like “OMG! I can’t believe I’m finally here!” frequently, the excitement was palpable.
Selah Sue, whose music I found researching artists for the UCLA Jazz Festival (check out my interview with her), opened the show on acoustic guitar with “Raggamuffin” and set a chill vibe, winning new fans during her 45 min set. Already familiar with her soul reggae music because I reviewed her self-titled album a few weeks ago, I sang along to “Break” and “Fyah Fyah”. In between her songs, she made a joke about speaking Flemish (suffice to say, it’s not a romance language) and told the audience that her album was all about self-acceptance, which did not fall on deaf ears of the crowd of mostly 18 and under teen girls (and the parents who were forced to come with) who grooved along. Meeting her again after the show, she was lovely as usual.
British artist, Passenger followed and the girls started shrieking intermittently as he played songs from his new album, All The Little Lights. He seemed so happy to be there and in disbelief he was playing the sold-out Wiltern, endearing him further to the girls who were falling in love before my eyes. At one point, he told the crowd to be quiet while he covered a Bob Dylan song and was sheepishly surprised everyone listened. That made me laugh (in a cute way).
Headliner fellow Brit Ed Sheeran next took the stage, bringing the crowd to a frenzy, the girls jumping up and down, holding up various signs and singing along to every word. Foolishly regretting leaving my earplugs at home, I got an earful every so often of “I f-in love you!” Beatboxing and using loop pedals, he powered through his 90 minute set performing songs from his 2011 album ,+. Reminding me of James Morrison and Jason Mraz, he mixed acoustic soul and pop throughout, making the girls scream non-stop (I apologize to those I made deaf with my own screaming at other shows. Actually, no I don’t) and throw potential love letters with marriage proposals and stuffed animals on stage. Doing a song towards the end of his set, bringing out earlier openers Selah Sue and Passenger confirmed they were “The A Team”.