Allen Stone had his work cut out for him on Friday at KAABOO Del Mar. Before he took the stage, Latin funksters Ozomatli delivered an energetic set that had most of the packed crowd dancing to their cumbias and singing along to the music.
But Stone was not deterred.
From the time the self-proclaimed "hippie with soul" stepped onto the DSD-sponsored Trestles stage, he was possessed like a preacher trying to save the souls of his entire congregation.
And that only makes sense, since Stone's love of music was fostered in a church where his father was the minister.
"Do you believe in the power of music, San Diego?," he wailed at the appreciative crowd. "Music has power," he continued. "Do you believe in that power, y'all? I believe that when a body of people, all there for the same, positive purpose, come together with energy, they can leave electrified. Do you believe in that this evening, San Diego? We're going to get down and party. Feel free to join us if you want."
And most did.
Leading his eight-piece band through an entertaining set that was heavy on tunes from Radius, his 2015 major label debut, Stone showcased his unique take on soul and R&B.
The long-haired, bearded frontman sang and played guitar, but he really came to life when he put his instrument down. Walking back and forth across the stage, he threw his hands up, sang to the sky, and worked the crowd from his temporary pulpit.
During "Freedom," Stone first got the crowd to join him in a call and response. Then he jumped down from the stage and let fans in the front row sing into the mic as he dished out hugs and high-fives.
He also had a few tricks up his sleeve.
In the middle of "American Privilege," the dynamic singer proved that Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye aren't his only influences by sneaking in a few bars of Kendrick Lamar's "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe."
And he didn't stop there. The strange bookends of Gotye's "Someone That I Used To Know" and The J.B.'s "Funky Good Time" also made appearances.
I got my hands on a setlist, and "I Shot The Sheriff" was also included, but was never played. Maybe they were running short on time.
But it didn't matter. People sang, people danced, and maybe, just maybe, a few of them even saw the light.