It was a trendy Friday evening in North Park, and for those unaware – it’s always trendy in North Park. From extremely fashionable outfits (on both the men & the women) to Pabst Blue Ribbon’s, we had entered San Diego’s hip-zone. Luckily for us, we wouldn’t just be rejoicing in the latest fashion trends and $17 infused craft beverages; as we were headed to The Observatory. Originally built in 1928 as 1,200 seat movie house, the theater has been reborn after a buy-out by the owner of The Observatory in Orange County earlier this year.

Entering The Observatory almost feels like a time-warp. Retaining its old school feel with blood-red walls and ornate decorative ceilings, Electric Sloth will never pass up the opportunity to cover an act at this magical theatre. On the docket for Friday night’s show was Leon Bridges, an American Gospel & Soul singer hailing from Fort Worth, Texas. Bringing life back to the sounds of the fifties’s and sixties’s, I wouldn’t be lying if I said this incredibly talented individual is almost reminiscent of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. While Bridges maintains his own style, I couldn’t help but attempt to compare him to some of the most prolific R&B/Soul acts of the 20th century.

After selling out back to back shows during his Fall Tour, Bridges finally made his way to San Diego to perform at another sold out show. Gracing the stage with his six-person band, a vintage mustard colored suit, and a larger than life smile on his face, Bridges and his band members were prepared to deliver a phenomenal show unlike any other. Starting off with “Doris“, we were able to really get a feel for Bridges’ solo talent, as he sang and strummed the guitar with only one spotlight overhead. Transitioning into “Flowers“, Bridges’ band showcased their talent as the mustard-suited front-man snapped his fingers while flawlessly delivering that sixties style sound that had the crowd cheering.

Sharing with us with stories of his mother, grandmother, and other instrumental moments in his past, Bridges definitely seemed to be building up his on-stage repertoire. One of the most unforgettable moments from his set was when he gave a shout to all the mothers in the crowd and then gave a special shout to all the babies. Sure enough, I looked over my right shoulder to see a precious infant clapping his hands in the air –  gazing at Bridges. I wouldn’t expect anything less from North Park.

Half way through his set, Bridges and his band played two of their classics, “Smooth Sailing” and “Coming Home“. By then, the entire crowd had caught onto Bridges’ dance moves and everyone was snapping their fingers at chest level while swaying back and forth. Bridges even took the time to introduce all of his band members. He first introduced his female vocalist side kick. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, her performance made everyone fall in love with her elegant voice. Bridges lastly introduced the saxophonist who has been by Bridges’ side every since he started playing small town gigs back in Texas. We heard numerous new tracks throughout his set which gives us hope that a new album is already in the works.

To say the least, Leon Bridges’ set was gold.

Listen to Leon’s newest album “Coming Home” (Columbia Records):

We’d like to give special thanks to Columbia Records & The North Park Observatory for having us.

Photography: Kevin Serrano