Concert Review + Photos: Black Joe Lewis @ The Independent SF

Black Joe Lewis & The HoneyBears @ The Independent SF — Photo by Matt Federighi

Black Joe Lewis took the stage for a sold out crowd at The Independent SF on Tuesday night (4/4), for what would be an energetic and spirited performance. Black Joe Lewis and his band (The Honeybears) are currently touring the US for their latest album Backlash.

The album is exactly what you’d expect from Lewis, containing a healthy mixture of the Blues, Rock & Roll, Soul and a touch of Garage. I’ve been following Lewis’s music for quite some time now and I can honestly say that this may be his best album yet (or at least it’s my favorite album).

The transitions during and in-between songs is something admirable. In “Wasted,” he captures your attention with his soulful voice, the tempo quickly changes into a smooth & easy guitar solo, then out comes the flute and the horn section to add another layer to an already ear-catching song.

It’s fun to watch as the band effortlessly adds and subtracts layers from songs, quickly changing the tempo without skipping a beat. It’s so smooth, in fact, that the people in the audience don’t even have a spare moment to stop dancing. Those transitions along with the high-pitch howling and strong guitar solos, make this band special to watch.

Black Joe Lewis & The HoneyBears @ The Independent SF — Photo by Matt Federighi

As I walked through the venue looking for great photo opps, I found it rather difficult to move about for two reasons: 1) It was challenging to take your eyes off of Lewis. He plays with such emotion and has such a magnetic stage presence. Along with the well-crafted light show behind him and his animated band, it’s not easy to look away. 2) There were so many people in the venue, almost all of them dancing, drinking, and laughing. As I would make my way from one side of the venue to the other, I constantly found myself stuck in the middle of a group of dancing fans or staring at the stage, completely forgetting why I was there in the first place.

A few times throughout the night, Lewis would rub his guitar on the amplifier, creating a loud screaming effect that went surprisingly well with the music. He also made it a point to play the guitar with his mouth — sometimes licking the strings, other times playing with his teeth. The people at the front of the stage absolutely loved this, jumping up and down with their hands in the air, letting out enthusiastic screams of approval.

Black Joe Lewis & The HoneyBears @ The Independent SF — Photo by Matt Federighi

Throughout the night, Lewis many songs from the new album, mixing them in with many of his classics (see setlist below):

Black Joe Lewis & The HoneyBears @ The Independent SF — Photo by Matt Federighi

Overall, Black Joe Lewis put on a fantastic show. Lewis does an excellent job getting the crowd to dance and the chemistry between the entire band is fun to watch. Without hesitation, the band can flawlessly transition between songs, most of the time without ever looking at each other.

That sort of chemistry makes it clear that Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears is an experienced jam band, rather than a group that plans their performance from start to finish. You can tell by the smiles on the band members’s faces that sometimes they are just winging it, making the most out of their time on the stage.

Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears put on an excellent performance that night and I’m excited for them to make their way back to San Francisco.