Connan Mockasin | The Lodge Room

by Christopher Andrew Armstrong

Walking into The Lodge Room, a venue located on the crowded Figueroa street in Highland Park, you usually find yourself greeted by long lines at the bar which oftentimes obstruct the entrance, followed by a sea of people facing north towards an elevated stage and a backdrop featuring a framed painting of what looks something similar to the Parthenon, posted high upon a hill. With a massive star hanging overhead, lit to match the room’s dim and hazy ambiance, it’s really a majestic setting for the still relatively new concert hall, which opened a little over a year ago. Set one of Connan Mockasin’s three night stand at the former Masonic lodge imagined the room as an entirely different beast.

What was once a stage was now as a platform for any audience member who desired either a birds eye view of the music making which was now happening on the DIY circular makeshift stage, stationed dead center of the floor, or simply wanted the experience of knowing what it felt like inhabiting a stage at an actual rock concert.

Connan Mockasin took the stage at 9:30 pm on a cool Tuesday evening, wearing a conservative tunic which reached well below his knees, attired with sun glasses and what resembled a bucket hat, pulled down tight. Without saying much, he ripped straight into quite possibly his most popular track “Charlotte’s Thong,” complete with an extended, jam happy intro which set the mood for the loosely structured songs which followed.

Maybe it was the intimacy generating from the makeshift stage, but the audience held grave attention as Connan commanded the room, which was loose on chatter and heavy on a desire for being seduced by the song’s irresistibly sexy groove. And Connan played to the audience’s overwhelming gratitude by hammering through a set heavy on fan favorites, of the kind written by him as well as other artists in the music industry such as Dolly Parton and The Fugees.

Impossible to make a swift exit from the circular stage, Conan and the band joked that this was the part where the audience would chant for an encore while then seguing into a smooth, almost improvisational cover of “Killing Me Softly,” by the Fugees before delighting the crowd with a joyous rendition of “Forever Dolphin Love.” Before the set could triumphantly end, the band covered Dolly Parton’s classic “I Will Always Love You,” which was written for a man who owned Dolly’s heart but could have easily been written about the adoration the audience expressed for musician from New Zealand.

Photographed by Christopher Andrew Armstrong