Prinze George (photo: Kaiya Gordon)
For good pop music to sparkle, timing is everything. And at at their show at Rickshaw Stop on Tuesday night, Prinze George’s timing was impeccable. Playing to a sold-out crowd, Prinze George opened on Tuesday for Lewis Del Mar from Queens, New York. For both bands, it was their first time playing in San Francisco, and the crowd took full advantage of that opportunity.
Onstage, Naomi Almquist, Prinze George’s vocalist, gave a shout-out to all of the friends from her hometown in the audience. And for a band from Maryland — the band’s name comes from the county Almquist and Kenny Grimm, the band’s producer and multi-instrumentalist, grew up in — Prinze George drew a remarkable crowd.
Prinze George’s recent record, Illiterate Synth Pop, is 10 tracks of lofty pop songs, marked by a dreamy vocal performance by Almquist and soaring synth treatments. But onstage, the band’s drummer, Isabelle De Leon, drove the performance. De Leon’s timing on drums was a high point: The sequences entwined with lifting guitar melodies and struck a perfect balance of shimmer and strength. Over it all, Almquist’s voice stretched, weaving in and out of the music like silk. In Prinze George, there are synths, but no tricks — all three members are simply excellent musicians. And though Prinze George’s songs are astral, they still have a groove — throughout the performance Almquist and Grimm danced onstage, clearly overjoyed to be playing in San Francisco and with each other.
During their performance of “Angels,” the lights in Rickshaw Stop framed Almquist, causing her to glow throughout the song — an apt visual for “Angels”’ vocal sound. Other notable points were Del Mar’s moving drums during “This Time,” which relies much more on her performance during the live show than it does on the album. Prinze George also played a cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U,” and though nobody can sing a Prince song like Prince can, I still appreciated the homage.
Prinze George’s sparkling performance put the Rickshaw Stop crowd in high spirits for Lewis Del Mar. Lewis Del Mar’s set was ecstatic, and their vocalist, Danny Miller, is excellent at commanding a crowd onstage. As compared to their recently-released first album, Lewis Del Mar’s live performance is incredible in its energy and technique — they looked and sounded like a band on fire. Miller’s apparent excitement towards the band’s first headlining tour was contagious, and when the crowd sang the band’s lyrics back to them — and Miller subsequently got emotional — I felt like I was sharing something with everyone in the room.
I don’t walk away from every live show feeling good about music. But on Tuesday at Rickshaw Stop, I felt strengthened and excited by the performances of Prinze George and Lewis Del Mar. Both bands showed their best in San Francisco, and as the crowd spilled out onto the streets, it was clear that they were appreciative. I’d like more nights to feel like Tuesday did.
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