While Long Beach was thriving with the masses in town for Ink-N-Iron, so was the music scene and Alex’s Bar did not disappoint. Hometown favorites, Suns of Jimi, took the stage a little after 11pm to a diverse crowd of fans, friends, locals and visitors that had the opportunity to experience SOJ in all its glory…smoke machine, lights and all. I won’t lie, between LA Pride and being in Long Beach that day, I was drained and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to “hang” into the late evening, but SOJ proved to be my music equivalent of 5 Hour Energy.
SOJ isn’t your typical band and I can’t really peg what genre I would place them in, but I don’t care. They performed songs that were both what would be considered their “signature set” and new ones that brought excitement to the crowd and to my ears. There is no starting off slow for SOJ. They don’t have mellow ballads or slow drawn out songs that provide a narrative of some cheesy story and I am thankful that isn’t the case, because they aren’t that type of band and I hope that is never what they become.
So, what made this night so special? Honestly, I don’t know! I am not sure if it was the crowd, if it was the many months since I had seen them perform, if it was the fact that I know they have a new EP pending or just seeing how far they have come in such a short time. Sure, there was the usual delay of the bands before them running a bit long and they needed some time for a sound check before they kicked off their set but once they did, they had the room explode into their version of what I like to call, “music fireworks”.
With the trademark energy of lead singer, John Komotos, SOJ rocked the stage with every song, lyric, riff and instrumental solo. Starting off the night with two bun like, folded over pigtails on his head, joking about his hairstyle, John quickly “let his hair down” and was jumping all over the stage in a matter of what seemed like minutes, but it was actually a couple songs in. It may have been after 11pm, but you wouldn’t have guessed with their musical power on that stage.
Too often you will hear, “They are good on stage, but their music doesn’t translate to recording!” and I admit that I have said that before for many artists, but I have never said that about SOJ and I never will. Sure, their performances are always fun, because they are true performers, but they have been working hard on their EP (slated for an August release) to make it sound just like when they are performing , without it being a live album.
I met John two years ago, after SOJ got off of the stage for the evening after a local gig, when I caught him at a block party where he pulled off an amazing solo jam. I can’t say that I had ever heard of Suns of Jimi before that, but I wasn’t going to be able to forget John’s personality and talent after that night. I have seen them perform all over town and in LA, even twice at House of Blues in Anaheim. I have been there when they have won Battle of the Bands and have enjoyed catching their interviews on local radio. I can’t rave about SOJ enough and their show at Alex’s Bar just completely blew me away, yet again.
If you live in Long Beach or can make your way over for the 4th of July weekend, I suggest that you catch SOJ at Party on the Pier on the 4th & 5th. One night of seeing them perform just isn’t enough and you won’t be sorry.