Sammy Rae and The Friends energizes San Diego

When Sammy Rae and The Friends stopped in San Diego at the House of Blues on the band’s U.S. leg of their Camp tour, a safe, protected and somehow also electric space was created in the venue that Thursday night. 

As the night’s opener, singer-songwriter Victoria Canal, walked on stage, sat on a stool and before saying anything began playing an unreleased song, “Person”, the stirring crowd was immediately soothed by a soft, entrancing voice.

The theme of having a vulnerable space for audience members to enjoy a fun night out and be themselves was instilled with Canal’s on-stage stories and banter, and continued with Sammy Rae and The Friends later on. Canal encouraged queer and disabled visibility throughout her set as she switched from acoustic guitar to piano to electric guitar. 

Canal performed tracks from her five existing EPs, a few more unreleased songs and even brought out the headlining act’s lead vocalist Sammy Rae for a duet covering Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”.

Canal’s set was a dreamy lullaby ascent to a night that climbed to a crescendo the moment Sammy Rae and The Friends began playing, and it was a crescendo that never really ended. 

As an introduction to the band and to the tour’s theme, someone donning a Bigfoot costume creeped across a stage decorated with moss, followed by the “Friends” all carrying lanterns. Each of the band members was decked out in camping clothes, friendship bracelets and braided lanyards, and when Sammy Rae herself joined the fray wearing a carabiner earring and a cropped National Park ranger shirt, it was like a zap of lightning energized the venue. 

It was immediately apparent that this show would be one filled with contagious smiles and silly dances. During the explosive first song “Talk it Up”, Rae sat on the front of the stage and sang-spoke to the audience, inviting the room to be a safe space amongst friends for the night. But because the evening would not last forever, she instructed everyone to raise their hands and feel the “vibes”, grab them in their fists and save those magical vibes for a time when they needed them. 

As the set went on, the energy of the seven-piece band was increasingly infectious, and it seemed to be impossible not to smile back up at them. Rae’s theatrical, expressive stage presence and lilting voice was met in tandem with the chaotically fun energy of each of the other musicians.

The group truly lived up to its name, as the band displayed an obvious camaraderie, love and comfortability during the performance.

While infusing the air with a folk-rock-jazz flair, at any given moment Sammy Rae and her friends were kicking or dancing or waving their hands in the air while simultaneously playing their wide variety of instruments. 

Nearing the show’s end, the band followed a riotous cover of Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” with the group’s songs “Denim Jacket” and “Good Life”, bringing the excitement and energy to a true defining point as each instrument had its time to shine in a camp-friendly battle of rhythm, horns and percussion. 

This year, Sammy Rae and The Friends released a live album, The If It All Goes South Tour (Live), and on a personal note, the album is a wonderful sneak peek into the loving, crazy communal dance party that a “Friends” concert truly is. 

Share this article


Become a Patron

Tour dates for Sammy Rae and The Friends

Get music updates in your inbox

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments