By Nancy Dahl
Seeing Jeremy Loops live is a must for anyone who loves folk, indie, beats, music in general or even just humans. If you haven’t heard of Jeremy Loops yet, it is the musical concoction of Jeremy Hewitt, a modern folk artist from South Africa with an arsenal of sound including but not limited to; vocals that could rival Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons, beatboxing, beatboxing into a harmonica, a shockingly inconspicuous indie-lady voice and a Fisher-Price toy, literally.
Jeremy Loops has headlined at festivals with tens of thousands and his debut album Trading Change topped the South African charts at No. 1 for iTunes on its release date. It’s easy to understand his success after experiencing his dynamic energy as he looped mouth/hand-made sound-effects, sang, and played instruments to build songs that got the whole room smiling, dancing, singing, stomping, clapping and jumping.
The show took place in the historic Columbia City Theater, the oldest vaudeville theater in Washington. Loops’ uplifting tempo and looped beats shook the brick walls of the theater, fittingly placed in a neighborhood cited as one of the most creative in Seattle and diverse in America. Loops' music career began as a fortuitous performance for a function supporting the advocacy group he and his friends founded that plants trees in Zambia with the understanding that more green means more equality and a less disparate physical, economic and social gap. Loops’ humanitarian spirit shines through while he sings about subjects ranging from moving forward from unsupported relationships in his song “Down South” to reminding himself and us all that we have power to live in our emotions unabashed in the song “Power.” Admittedly, I have a tendency to gravitate toward music that can get dark at times, there has to be a sense of yin and yang or I feel like I’m suffocating in an inflated wad of pink bubble gum. There’s nothing wrong with pop, but if it’s all air it’s a bore after the first few listens.
The nice thing about Jeremy Loops’ music is that it’s upbeat with depth. Similarly, the openers were an energetic musical mélange. First there was Aaron Mark Brown, comprised of two electric guitarists, a bassist, a drummer and the singer Brown, who played the piano in a way that conjured old western saloon meets Elton John vibes. Initially the audience was a small group that seemed to fill the room, nodding their heads and some even swing-dancing to music that evolved into a fun rock-n-roll/jazz fusion.
Next up was Budo, very much the epitome of a one-man band. He started with a pretty epic electronic base to which he alternately played guitar, trumpet and keyboard as well as sang anthems in an angsty Conor Oberst fashion.
The venue is fit to hold 200 and maintains a small, intimate feel which also means limited areas to rest your feet. After a long day and two hours of standing I wasn’t sure I would be able to make dancing motions with my body but Jeremy Loops came out shortly after 10pm fist-bumping and beat-boxing into a harmonica and suddenly I was rejuvenated. Loops set the mood for the show singing, “Welcome to the show, if you wanna have fun, say aye!” He then delved into his hit song “Power,” which he openly expressed was a song he wrote to help him get over stage freight. Next he had us all howling to the song “Mission to the Sun.” His collaborators came out one by one; the saxophonist, Jamie Faull had a mini battle against Loops’ saxophone vocalization and then rocked out on the drums. Next came the bassist, and finally the South African rapper Motheo Moleko who matched Jeremy’s enthusiasm.
It was a memorable set, and Loops must have felt that too as he had the lights turn on the crowd to take a selfie with us and then ended with two encores. My suggestion to you: go see Jeremy Loops live! His US tour continues for the next three months so don’t miss your chance.