Review: Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers in Cincinnati, OH

Hannah WilsonAlbum Review, Concert Review, Live Music, Music, New Music, Opinion, ReviewsLeave a Comment

Scrolling through Facebook, I see a sponsored post from my local venue, Bogarts: “Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers SOLD OUT!” The comments are… a bit of a mixed bag, to say the least. 

Some people are shocked that he was even able to secure a venue, let alone sell it out.

Then there are my people… the people who are so, absolutely stoked.

They say that all press is good press, and Frank Lopes Jr., more widely known as Hobo Johnson, sure gets his share of questionable press. He’s become the butt of indie music jokes, tweets, and memes, targeting his “whiny” lyrics and goofy presence. After being a long term listener myself, and seeing him on The Fall Tour of Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers, I’ve decided this is due to one thing — fear of sheer authenticity.

If you HAD to stick a genre on him, “rap” only seems natural. However, not even Hobo himself considers him a rapper, as he admits himself in self-produced hit Peach Scone: “Oh yeah, my name’s Hobo Johnson, people like to say I’m a rapper, I’m actually not.” Hobo considers his work to be more in line with poetry, his shows being a wonderful mix between feeling like you’re at a dance club and feeling like you’re at a slam poetry night sipping on a coffee. Perhaps this poetry element is what makes his lyrics questionable to the critics — there’s no fluff, just authentic feelings over a beat.

The tour is in support of his newest album, The Fall of Hobo Johnson, released in late 2019. The album somehow brings us even more versatility than 2017s The Rise of Hobo Johnson, with high energy tracks like “Typical Story” mixed with melancholy pieces like “February 15th.” You can say what you want about the album, but you can’t say it’s boring. My number one recommended track from the album is “Subaru Crosstrek XV,” which sums up the energy we get from this album — deeply personal, somewhat depressing lyrics that still make us want to get up and dance.

With authenticity being the quality that makes Hobo Johnson memorable, you can only imagine how it feels to see him and his band The Lovemakers on tour. Hobo took the time between each song to interact with the crowd and introduce what was next,  a somewhat minor thing that makes the experience feel that much more personal. At one point, we found ourselves repeating after him, student-teacher style, to apologize to “the Biebs” as an introduction to “Ode to Justin Bieber.” And you would think we would all feel absolutely stupid doing so, but it actually felt stupid NOT to — Hobo has made us feel comfortable, and here he is pleading for us to give some compassion… why wouldn’t we?

And then the song begins — Johnson isn’t singing, nor is he rapping, rather screaming his words the way his fans are in their cars with the windows down. Going to a concert can be intimidating, and I remember my days of being a preteen and feeling silly to let loose at a show. Had I seen Hobo Johnson at thirteen, that may have snapped me out of it. You can see how much fun he is having putting on a show,  the band and the crowd feeding off of each other, making the energy grow by the minute.

At the time of this post going up, The Fall of Hobo Johnson Tour is coming to a close. But if you want to experience something different — a wonderfully personal mix of a frat party and a slam poetry night — keep your eye on Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers.

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Hannah WilsonReview: Hobo Johnson & The Lovemakers in Cincinnati, OH