Interview and Review: Ziggy Alberts at the Doug Fir Lounge on 09/10
Written by Robin on September 11, 2019
Ziggy Alberts at the Doug Fir Lounge: One of the most intimate, yet vibrant shows I have seen in the many concerts I have attended throughout my life. Not only did I get to see this wonderful artist perform his music and lighten up people’s faces, I even got to chat with him for a little while before the concert.
Let’s start at the beginning. It’s getting closer to 7:30pm, the sun is slowly setting as I arrive at the entrance of the Doug Fir Lounge. Some people are standing outside, collecting their tickets before they will be let into the venue at 8pm. I tell the security guide I arrived for an interview with the artist, am told that Ziggy’s manager will be with me in just a moment. And he does arrive only shortly after – a very friendly guy around my age introduces himself to me as Ziggy’s manager and asks if it is alright with me if we did the interview on the tour bus, as the support act is still doing her soundcheck in the venue. Chatting about how they got to Portland two nights prior and watching a horror movie in the theaters the night before, suddenly I am standing in front of the grant tour bus and am offered to step inside. Crew members standing in the hall are politely stepping aside to let me squeeze by – quite the cozy, yet welcoming environment. In the back of the bus I find Ziggy, who is already walking up to me with a smile on his face.
15 minutes, as promised is the manager’s announcement as he closes the door behind him to let us do the interview. It feels a bit like having an easy chat with a friend you make, somewhere on the road or in the community space of a hostel. I hope it does come across that way, but please give it a listen yourself, download here.
After my brief, yet intimate chat with Ziggy I am walking back over to the Doug Fir Lounge and downstairs to the concert hall. My first time coming to the venue – a welcoming place, with its wooden panels on the walls and some people casually standing around talking. Still quite uplifted and energized from my exciting interview with Ziggy, I walk over to the bar to order a drink and get comfortable in the crowd.
Shortly after, the support act is entering the stage: Emily Brimlow. I have never seen anyone take the word ‘support act’ or ‘opening act’ that literally. Standing there all by herself with her bright blond hair and red bandana, Emily turns the stage alive with such an ease, it is incredible to watch. I had seen opening acts try to have people sing along before, but was never much impressed with the results. For Emily, she doesn’t even have to try hard. The audience already starts singing along, once they figure out how the chorus goes. Emily makes the audience’s willingness to sing along her advantage, engages with the crowd and has us sing along and plays a little by throwing out melodies for us to repeat. It’s fun, her music great, her voice amazing. This review is mainly about Ziggy but Emily definitely deserves her little paragraph in this small spotlight, turning it into a review of two, instead of one amazing artist.
With the crowd bustling after that wonderful opening act, it takes a little while before Ziggy is making it out on stage, or does it only feel that way? At some point, the background music stops, which is enough to make the audience go quiet. And out he walks, with the same smile he had on his face when he first welcomed me only an hour or two before, when I first met him on his tourbus. The smile remains on his face as he starts singing, lightens up even more as people shout out from excitement. This artist has played a lot of shows, but he definitely has not forgotten to enjoy being close to his audience. You can tell he has plenty of experience from his early days busking in the streets. The way he interacts with the crowd shows that he loves doing just that. He is an artist who wants to speak to the hearts of his listeners, not just sell out shows or make it on the list of some fancy top 100 – which he does anyway and laughs about it, saying now they will get to listen to reggae stuff on the radio.
But fun aside, Ziggy also has some deeply felt advice to share, saying now is the time to put the texting aside and make phone calls when we want to reach out to friends. That now is the time to go check on our neighbors, ring their doorbells and see if they are doing fine. Ziggy welcomes the people with open hands and they give the same openness back to him. They answer his questions, such as when he said he got to go on a hike earlier, somewhere close to the Oregon Zoo. Some green place with lots of trees, starting with ‘H’ pretty certainly!? ‘Hoyt Arboretum’, someone in the crowd shouts out. That’s it!
Ziggy cares about the environment, mentions that the cups at the venue are made of compostable materials. The organizers were so kind to put up a tank of water in the back, so the crew could fill up their reusable water bottles. His merch is all environmentally friendly produced. He says what he thinks, shares what is important to him.
After leaving the stage, Ziggy returned for an encore that lasted for 3 songs including a beautiful unplugged version of “Warm Coffee” and ending on a fun dance along to “Gone (The Pocahontas Song)”. After that, off he went but this time for real. At least for tonight’s show.
Putting all that together, I got to know Ziggy as a humble artist, a great entertainer and his show was absolutely worth attending. Keep your ears open to find out when he comes to Portland next time! I’m sure he will return…