Sammy Rae & The Friends sell Teragram Ballroom
Combining jazz, rock and soul influences, Sammy Rae & The Friends create a contemporary sound for an audience that appreciates music from a variety of genres and shared it with a sold-out crowd at the Teragram Ballroom. Packed with listeners eager to join the band for their first-ever set of West Coast performances, the space was brimming with unparalleled family energy on Friday night.
From this performance, the group of “Friends” is composed of “C-Bass Chiriboga (drums), James Quinlan (bass), Will Leet (guitar/keyboards), Myra Moon (backing vocals), Kaya Kulu (backing vocals), Max Zooi (tenor saxophone/synths), and Kellon Anderson (alto saxophone), which when combined create an unforgettable rhythm between them.
For the band, their “Follow Me Like The Moon” tour showed the continued effort of musicians across the country to support live performance and music creation throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s essential in these times when everything seems out of your control that you dig in and look for the lesson, because there’s always one in there, and that you figure out how to get through these times with grace and gratitude,” said the lead singer Sammy Rae. during the concert.
The performance was full of unique features. When Rae made comments between songs, she sang them rather than speaking. Throughout the show, Rae gave the microphone to people in the audience and let viewers borrow hats and other props. The Teragram Ballroom, about a 10-minute drive from USC, is one of the most coveted intimate venues for rock and indie artists, and was perfect for Sammy Rae & the Friends’ collaborative and inviting performance. The relatively small venue allowed Rae to centralize audience participation and engagement in a completely transformational way.
Their unique approach is part of the reason their fans are so excited to share their work with others. Addy Lillard and Ella Lavian attended the show after hearing about the band through activities at USC.
“I really have to [hear them] when the a cappella group I’m in covered one of their songs,” said Lillard, a freshman majoring in theater. “So we sang ‘The Feeling’, and from there, ‘Jackie Onassis’ – I loved that song – and then on to the rest of their discography.”
While their music draws on sounds from the past, Sammy Rae & The Friends also focus on the more contemporary themes of queerness and sexuality, in songs such as “Jackie Onassis”, a queer women’s revival centered around the world. former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. For Lavian, a first-year environmental studies student, “Jackie Onasis” was the backing track to a dance performance she had seen on campus and introduced to the group.
“It was probably the most beautiful dance I’ve ever seen in my life,” Lavian said. “I added it to my playlist and played it while I got ready in the morning for a month straight.”
The band distinguished themselves by creating a sense of familiarity with the audience, continuously smiling, and asking the audience to “be their friends” multiple times throughout the night. Lillard also explained how Sammy Rae’s precise vocal control sounds “almost like an instrument” and that she had “never heard anyone sing like that” before.
The group is no stranger to this kind of praise. They commented during the show that they were thrilled with the large amount of streams they received for their latest track, “Follow Me Like The Moon.” The band also announced that they had just been named one of NPR’s Slingshot Artists to Watch of 2022.
Sammy Rae & The Friends kicked off their “Follow Me Like The Moon” tour on January 16 at the City National Grove in Anaheim and will continue their West Coast leg through the end of January.