Barefoot and jumping onstage, Hobo Johnson created a space for “good old-fashioned family fun.” That is, as he had in previous shows, Johnson created a space that one could bring family members to and still enjoy the experience. Johnson’s energy was infectious, borderline screaming his lyrics and bouncing around all over the stage, it was difficult not to understand the audience’s enthusiasm for him.
Johnson, whose real name is Frank Lopes Jr., came up with his stage name while living out of his ‘94 Toyota Corolla, releasing his first album — named after his car — in 2015 and releasing his second album, The Rise of Hobo Johnson, in 2017. On Oct. 13, Johnson performed at The Warfield in promotion of his third album, The Fall of Hobo Johnson.
Johnson performed his hit “Romeo & Juliet,” a song that explores the concepts found in Shakespeare’s “ Romeo and Juliet,” but more importantly explores Johnson’s own loneliness, along with detailing the disintegration of his parents’ marriage. This song was anticipated, as he had walked onstage to Taylor Swift’s “Love Story,” imploring jokingly for the show’s producers to turn it off, while the crowd sang along to Swift’s song. He delivered the song with energy and bravado, engaging with the audience the entire time, creating an altogether dynamic performance.
The song that Johnson performed most excitedly was “Peach Scone,” which is the song that brought him into the mainstream. The artist teased out this song, proclaiming how he can’t stand seeing croissants behind a glass counter in coffee shops and how he can’t conceive how they make pumpkins into scones — a reference to his song’s lyrics — before ecstatically screaming his love for peach scones and jumping into the song.
Perhaps one of the more amusing aspects of the night came when Johnson sat on the edge of the stage, which he frequently did throughout the night. He spoke of his early difficulties in life and then meditated on how misunderstood Justin Bieber was. A member in the audience threw their shirt at him, which he jokingly swatted away — only for a bra to be thrown onstage, less than a minute later, to both his and the crowd’s bemusement.
Near the end of the night, Johnson talked rapidly about a pop song that was among the rawest and most beautiful songs of the last couple of decades before telling his backing band to start performing it: Vanessa Carlton’s “A Thousand Miles.” To preface this entire performance of the song, Johnson elaborated on his inability to hold a tune. As he half-talked the lyrics to this iconic pop song, you could barely hear him over the crowd’s belting of the lyrics.
As far as the night being family fun, it was clearly a family affair for Johnson. He had his sister in the wings, even introducing her to the audience, with her frequently coming up onstage to dance. She even threw out red roses with the rest of the band when the show finished. After performing his song “I Want a Dog,” Johnson and his bandmates exited the stage, allowing the crowd a little time to get antsy, thinking there might not be an encore.
Johnson finished up his show with his version of Earth, Wind & Fire’s disco jam “September,” a song instantly recognizable by both young and old — his version was just as distinguishable. By putting a new spin on old hits and engaging casually with the audience, Johnson turned The Warfield into the type of setting we all wish we could have gone to when we were younger.
Highlights: “Subaru Crosstrek XV,” “Sex in the City,” “Peach Scone”
Zoë Cramer covers music. Contact her at [email protected].