Leon Bridges | Hollywood Bowl

by Hannah Jackson

I rarely brave Hollywood Bowl traffic, but for Leon Bridges, I made an exception. As the shuttle bus rolled through the gates of the iconic Los Angeles venue on July 5th, fellow passengers remarked on the giant letters announcing “SOLD OUT” on the marquis.

The 29-year old Texas crooner appeals to just about everybody, as evidenced by the hordes of people swarming the entrance. Everyone from older couples, to new parents with babies strapped to their chests, to hip teens with facial piercings battled LA traffic to see the man of the hour serenade his way into our hearts.

Bridges’ smoothness has garnered many comparisons. “He’s like if Usher was around in the ‘60s,” a photographer remarked to me as we walked to the press area. The young soul singer has been equivocated to Otis Redding and Stevie Wonder, but he is certainly carving out a place for himself, as evidenced by his unforgettable Hollywood Bowl show.

The singer—born Todd Michael Bridges—emerged wearing a tangerine-hued suit that he was practically born to wear. Kicking off the show with high energy, he hyped up the audience with the flirtatious “If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be),” and displayed his funky dance moves with “Bad Bad News.” Bridges showed off his incredible pipes with the titular song off of his freshman album, Coming Home. Hearing the audience sing along usually doesn’t do it for me, but listening to the crowd sing along invoked an undeniable sense of camaraderie and warmth that reverberated throughout the Bowl.

Bridges was accompanied by a host of incredibly talented musicians and backup singers, both of whom he gave solo time. Brittni Jessie, the only female member of Bridges’ band, wowed with her stunning harmonies, which shone particularly bright during a noteworthy rendition of “Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand.”

“Los Angeles, Los Angeles, can you feel the rhythm taking over?” Bridges asked to cheers. “I wanna play something so funky you can smell it,” he proclaimed before jumping into sexy hit “Lions.”

The set ended on a high note with an electric guitar-heavy “Smooth Sailing,” and the high-energy “Flowers.” As the band left the stage, a cacophony of cries of “It’s not really over, is it?” filled the venue.

Over it was not. Bridges returned for an encore of his heartache-inducing “River.” Supported only by his backup singers, Bridges, armed with a guitar, had the entire venue swaying and singing along, as he bid his audience a farewell.