If I could sum up my first Kollaboration Acoustic 5 show viewing experience, I would liken it to a mug of vanilla latte with whipped cream.
I have never been to the Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood, so I wasn’t prepared on Friday when I was greeted by a beautiful canopy of palm trees and other greenery that served as the show’s lush background as I got ushered to my seat. The theater was constructed with warm camel stones, inviting the viewer to comfortably enjoy the performance on its smooth even stage. Moody lighting beautifully lit the performers and helped to create the intimate environment, and the house itself felt like we were all seated in a cavernous bowl, a friendly one.
A good drink, like a good show, needs to be started off right.
The show began close to 8:30 p.m., and Chrizle kicked off the night with a beautiful folk-influenced song. Teesa transformed her dance song Gameboi into a lovely acoustic wonder, and Tranley followed with his own soothing modern jazz song, asking the audience to, “Open your mouths!” to sing along to his song.
Nessa Rica had the crowed smiling as her bubbly presence and song rang clear across the auditorium. Ensemble Memo, a quintet of musicians on cello, piano, guitar, and violin, changed up the show with a fierce performance of a tango classical, which captivated the audience and left their jaws hanging. In an epic piano ballad, Lindsey Yung demonstrated the power of the human voice as she filled the amphitheatre with vocal fervency, and Jason Yano showed me how to live in his hip-gyrating, wild blues tunes performance.
Lulling us back into our seats with the soft harmony of her voice and song after Jason’s lively performance was Alexa Yoshimoto. The final act before intermission, The Mood Junkies‘ rocked the stage with their cover of Adele‘s I’ll Be Waiting.
After intermission, volunteer audience vocalists battled for a cash prize in a freestyle vocal competition, which was facilitated by Roy Choi, the emcee for the night and the executive director of Kollaboration.
The first of two special guest performances, acerbic Asian-American comedian KT Tatara‘s snarky remarks ranging on the topics of his heritage and age to tall men incited howls of laughter and claps from the crowd. As people calmed down, Roy brought to the stage Kollaboration founder Paul “PK” Kim to introduce special guest performer Priscilla Ahn. Her enchanting performance was underscored by the sound of fireworks exploding from the Hollywood Bowl.
It was under this ethereal spell that Roy, the Kollaboration Acoustic 5 staff, and the vocalists were brought on stage to congratulate the winner.
So who had won?
Screams and cheers erupted across the house when Roy announced, “Tranley!” as the winner of this year’s Kollaboration Acoustic show.
The thing that I took away most was how each performer invited and transported us into his/her world. A taste of what their own perspective on life was.
Hearing and seeing the work of Asian-American artists, and supporting their passion as a community is not the only value of a show like Acoustic 5. It’s also an opportunity to take “bedroom artists out of their bedrooms and to give them the venue to showcase their musical talent,” an observation that the show’s production manager Austin Jose perceives and appreciates. And for those who are watching, it provides role models to look up to and aspire to become.
And what can we expect from Kollaboration 11 in November? Austin promises us “huge acts, the best lineup we can possible get, and an amazing headliner” while maintaining the quality of the show. “I don’t want to give out anything right now, but it will be an amazing show, a show that you should not miss.”
A bigger show? An even bigger venue?
I’m down to trade in my mug for a venti.