Live: Donavon Frankenreiter (6-18-11)

Live: Donavon Frankenreiter (6-18-11)

Date: Saturday, June 18th, 2011
Line up: Donavon Frankenreiter, Seth Petterson & The Undertow
Location: The Coach House. San Juan Capistrano, CA

Even walking up to the venue, I could feel the buzz… the buzz of people who were stoked to have gotten their tickets early to Donavon Frankenreiter’s SOLD OUT show. The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano is a legendary So Cal venue that has played host to a myriad of noteworthy artists over the years – as confirmed by the rows and rows of autographed press photos that line the walls. It may also be iconic as Pepper’s early stomping grounds.

It was 8:15PM when I walked through the door, and already the place was packed to the gills! Standing just in front of me in the hallway, graciously posing for photos and signing autographs for his fans, was Donavon himself. What struck me the most is that the mixing and mingling and interaction did not seem obligatory or forced at all. He was just very (forgive the cliche).. down-to-earth.

Once upstairs, in the maze of greenrooms, I introduced myself as his trusty photographer for the evening. His response: “Great! Shoot it all. Whatever you want.” My mental response: “Okay, if you say so!” And from there I proceeded to tail him like a paparazzo. This being his home show, he had his family hanging out backstage, including his parents, his wife Petra, and his two kids, Hendrix and Ozzy. Also in attendance were good friends and sponsors from Sanuk, Billabong, and Quiksilver, among others.

Seth Petterson & The Undertow was the night’s opener. A two-man band, their music was described to me beforehand as “if The Black Keys were surfers”. Unfortunately my attention was thrice divided at the time of their set, so I don’t have a credible review for them, but if they’re opening for Donavon, I may just go ahead and give them the benefit of the doubt.

It was 9:30PM and nearing time for the headliner. Donavon and his 4-piece band prepped with an acoustic warm-up backstage, followed by a pep huddle before descending the flight of stairs down to the stage. And the crowd goes wiiiillld!! I trailed closely behind, camera-in-hand, trying to capture the vibe of the show, in all of it’s authenticity.

In person, Frankenreiter’s voice is as raspy as it is on his records. It’s not the harsh AC/DC rasp of a metal pipe file, it’s more like the soft, grazing rasp of warm barber shop straight-razor shave (careful to avoid the signature mustache, of course!). As Donavon is most likely a surfer first and musician second, his music has a feel-good, beachy vibe, that tends to sound acoustic even when he’s playing an electric guitar. You may also detect tones nostalgic of old-school Southern rock, as well as sounds that hint of Baja California.

A few songs into the set, the horn sounded for “Your Heart” and the full-capacity crowd erupted in cheers. Later on, he gifted one lucky concert-goer with an acoustic guitar for being the first to guess the name of the cover song he was playing. More audience participation gave two people the karaoke experience of a lifetime, as they each got to belt out the chorus for “It Don’t Matter”. For the encore, on the Saturday before Father’s Day, he played “Call Me Papa”, a song dedicated to his family.

– Article & Photos by: Jenni Anspach