Paolo Nutini at the Fox Theater in Oakland

This past weekend, we attended our first concert at the Fox Theater in Oakland. The theater opened earlier this year. It’s located down the street from The Paramount, a theater we have been too often. There is no dedicated parking for the show, but there are several parking lots listed on their website. We easily parked in a lot just down the street.

We passed by The Den at the Fox, a lounge connected to the theater. They offer drinks and some food, but we didn’t have time to look into there. When we entered the theater, an usher promptly greeted us. Our tickets were for loge seating. But the usher told us we could also access the standing general admissions area on the floor. If we had a Visa Signature card, we could be seated in the limited seating area on the first floor. We opted to take our seats in the lodge. The lodge seating is unusual. The seats are grouped in pairs, with ample space between the next coupled seats. We were in the first row of the lodge, our view partially blocked by the railing, but still a decent view of the performers. The layout of the Fox is very similar to the Warfield in San Francisco, but the Fox is quite larger.

We were seated during the middle of the opening act, Anya Marina. She was roaring through her set, rocking with her electric guitar. She was very crowd friendly, talking and often interacting with the crowd between songs. At one point she asked if the crowd was an “all ages” crowd because she wanted to explain the origin of a song she wrote. The actual meaning of the song could only be described with profanity, which she chose not to utter. Later in her performance, she noticed a Brazilian flag in the standing audience. She asked the pair of Brazilian girls who were holding the flag if it’s true they like anal sex – meaning if Brazilian girls do. (I guess she never got the answer to the “all ages” question.) One of the most interesting songs she did was a cover of T.I.’s “You Can Have Whatever You Like”.

Paolo Nutini came out next. His set was a good mixture of songs from his first album, These Streets, and his latest album, Sunny Side Up. We were very familiar with songs from These Streets and were happy to hear them live. We haven’t listened to his latest album, so they rang as new to our ears and were harder to get into. But Paolo performs with such enthusiasm and passion. It would be difficult not to enjoy his performance.

The big letdown at the Fox was the sound. I don’t have golden ears, and rarely notice bad sound at a concert, but from where we were sitting the vocals sounded muddled for both performers. At times it is hard to make out any lyrics at all, let alone the blend of instruments. I’m not sure if the sound sitting the center lodge or on the floor would be better. I’ll need to go to another concert to find that out.

Overall it was a good first-time experience at the Fox. It looks as if several performances are coming up that we’d be interested in attending.