By Ashley Jones

Leon Bridges stands at the microphone. The bassist stands behind him.

Leon Bridges (right) sings his heart out to the Roots N Blues crowd. This is Bridges’ first time performing at the festival. (Photo by Ashley Jones)

It was around 9 p.m. when The Mavericks finished performing at the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival at the MO Lottery Stage. Hundreds of people, ranging from 50 to 90 years old, left the area. The demographic took a complete turnaround when young students crowded the gate to wait for Leon Bridges to grace the stage.

If I could describe the atmosphere of Leon Bridges’ performance, I would say it was groovy, smooth, and romantic. The pure pink tint in the lighting was almost as soft and elegant as Bridges’ voice over the speakers.

Leon Bridges stands confidently at the microphone.

Leon Bridges (left) twirls the microphone stand in the palm of his hand while performing his album “Coming Home”. He is going on tour with Harry Styles in May 2017. (Photo by Ashley Jones)

The band kicked off the show with one of Leon Bridges’ more popular songs, “Smooth Sailin’”, and then went down the remaining tracks from his debut album, “Coming Home”. The crowd went crazy for the title track. Fans from all ages grabbed their phone flashlights and kerosene lighters as they swayed to the beat of the drum.

Things began to get more interesting when Bridges asked the crowd, “Can we get a little sexy?”. He then played his only cover for the night, which was “Pony” by Ginuwine. His only female bandmate, Brittni Jessie, was having fun with the song and even turned around to give the audience a dance number as she shook her booty.

Brittni Jessie plays the tambourine on stage.

Leon Bridges’ bandmate Brittni Jessie (left) plays the tambourine to the song “Smooth Sailin”. Brittni Jessie sings the backup vocals on Bridges’ album “Coming Home”. (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Speaking of dancing, Bridges’ moves added to the groovy, smooth vibes of the concert. His signature dance was the glide with a simple one-two step as he clapped to the beat. The singer can be smooth like he is from the golden years when blues was first played.

Bridges’ fashion sense was giving vintage vibes to match his music and dance style. He showed up on stage in a full baggy gray jumpsuit with his hair slicked back. His look spoke a thousand words while he sang thousands to match the story. The only new age thing about Bridges’ performance was his age of 28.

Bridges’ clothes were no joke, but the performer does have a sense of humor. After singing the popular song “Coming Home”, he wished the audience a good night and ran from the stage abruptly. This caused a wave of confusion to course through the crowd because Leon had not sang his famous song “River” yet.

From what I could tell, no one could tell if Leon was being serious, and the crowd did not know how to react. Many just continued to scream in excitement and others were attempting to start chanting “Leon” or “River”.

Leon Bridges dances on stage.

Leon Bridges sways and grooves to the rhythm of his band. He also plays guitar. (Photo by Ashley Jones)

Eventually, Leon came back out and finished his set after sarcastically saying “Love you too.” As if the crowd’s chants weren’t already loud enough. Leon finished his set in contentment and ended the show singing “Outta Line”.

Overall, the show was a hoot. Leon was not the only one who had a great time. The venue was overflowing with spectators and love. The Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival made a great decision to invite Leon Bridges to perform for Columbia blues lovers. I hope that the artist comes back to visit soon.

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