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Toh Kay plays intimate show for diehard Streetlight Manifesto fans

The Bootleg Bar seems nothing short of a dirty warehouse. It was not until fans stepped inside it on Sunday that they noticed the small Los Angeles bar had transformed into an intimate campfire setting.

The low stage that would feature Sycamore Smith, Dan Potthast and Toh Kay had a small mock campfire at the foot of the microphone stand, and a backdrop that was decorated with sparkling stars that were the only lighting of the entire night.

Sycamore Smith was the first to take the stage, armed with only his acoustic guitar and, occasionally, his kazoo. Smith’s folk-like tunes seemed appropriate for Pentimento’s campfire tour as majority of his songs were like stories with added melodies from his instruments. Despite the lack of singing from the crowd, people seemed to respond positively to Smith.

Dan Potthast immediately took the stage following Smith and fans cheered, as they knew a humorous set would take place.

“You guys look great! Been working out?” Potthast asked the crowd as they continued to cheer. “There’s no place I’d rather be than on stage with all you guys!”

Potthast’s humor and interesting stories kept everyone captivated, whether people where fans or not. There were times during his songs that he did not have to use the microphone because his voice alone was already powerful enough. Despite only having his guitar, Potthast made use of the stage by stomping his foot for an added percussion effect that fit perfectly with his songs.

A persistent fan kept shouting “Freebird” as a request throughout Potthast’s entire set until he finally addressed the person by dedicating his last ditty to ridicule him. The audience approved of Potthast’s humor and performance as he thanked the crowd and walked offstage.

Fans grew anxious as they awaited Toh Kay (Tomas Kalnoky of Streetlight Manifesto) to take the stage. Fans teased one another as they yelled out, “There he is!” Only to be disappointed by a random person walking in through the back doors. When least expected, Tomas Kalnoky finally walked in with his guitar, some music sheets and his iPhone. Fans continued to cheer as Kalnoky began setting up onstage.

“Alright, let’s make a deal,” Kalnoky began. “I’m gonna play for a very long time and you guys are not gonna take pictures with f–king flash. How’s that? This show is for you guys. It’s not for YouTube, and it’s not for your goddamn Tumblrs.”
Obeying Kalnoky’s request, fans put away their phones and cameras and waited until he began the first song.

Kalnoky played an acoustic melody and transitioned into “Would You Be Impressed?” A few seconds into the song, a glimpse of light appeared on Kalnoky to which he quickly stopped and responded, “What did I say?” Fans laughed and cheered, amused at Kalnoky’s hasty reaction. The venue was so dark that it was impossible to take any photos, anyway.

Throughout the night Kalnoky took requests from fans. However, for the majority of the time, he could not remember all the lyrics, which proved difficult for him to finish songs. Kalnoky’s attempt still seemed to please fans, and they would assist him out when it came to remembering the lyrics. The night was filled with humor, as even then, both Kalnoky and the audience would mix up lyrics, creating completely different meanings for the songs.

Fans were so completely enthralled and filled with energy that it was difficult to sing along with Kalnoky in a ballad-like tone considering the original Streetlight Manifesto songs call for shouting. During “1234, 1234” a fan’s enthusiasm went overboard to which Kalnoky replied, “Oh God. What key is that? I appreciate your enthusiasm, but you have a complete lack of knowledge when it comes to the western musical scale.”

The ambiance of the night was perfect for fan favorites like, “A Better Place, A Better Time,” where everyone in the room overpowered Kalnoky’s voice. Kalnoky seemed pleased as he smiled at everyone’s enthusiasm and participation.

Hearing Kalnoky perform songs acoustically created a different feel and ambiance than a Streetlight Manifesto show. Unlike Streetlight Manifesto concerts where tracks are played back-to-back with hardly room for banter from the band, Toh Kay’s gig was the complete opposite. While to many Toh Kay may come off as offensive, it is his unfiltered banter that makes his solo gigs enjoyable and definitely memorable in its own unique way.

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