« Boys Night Out: El Rey Theatre, Hollywood, CA 8.7.07 | Main | ALO at Nuemos in Seattle, WA on 8/3 »

August 09, 2007

Arden Kaywin at Jimmy's Acoustic Courtyard in Hollywood, CA, August 7th, 2007

Playing in front of a laid back audience that included talented actors Topher Grace (Venom was in the building!) and Cedric the Entertainer, along with official Billboard/LG Mobile Beat Hobbit Dave Chung, Arden Kaywin performed on Tuesday night at Jimmy's Acoustic Courtyard. As this was my first time at the indoor/outdoor venue, I was initially underwhelmed by the exterior appearance of the outdoor venue, which from the wrong side looked like it could double as a beach shower pit/public urinal. However, upon entering the hidden side entrance, Jimmy's Acoustic Courtyard - with its unexpected comfortable couches, bar, horseshoe booths, and open air socializing area for people more hip than I - instantly became one of my favorite small venues in the Los Angeles area. Kaywin, whose single "Me With Me" was nominated as the 2006 Pop Song of the Year by the Independent Music Awards, put on an incredible vocal performance for her dedicated fans and won over some new ones in the process. While her name might not initially seem the most memorable, her passionate vocals, unique blend of musical styles, lyricism, and impressive range make her an artist that is very hard to forget.


After the opening act, Kaywin took the stage in front of an audience that was abuzz with activity in both the bar area and the tealight-illuminated performance area. Someone in the crowd smelled like a bongwater smoothie (mmmmm, burnt weed crumbs and stale Evian), and the murmur of voices was becoming a little too loud to ignore, but Kaywin achieved the impossible by quieting the incessant schmoozing with her refreshing vocals. While she generally performs with a full band, she performed with only the accompanying sounds of a keyboard and guitar Tuesday night.


Opening up the show with "Boys and Girls," Kaywin showed off her pop-friendly sound, which, combined with just the right amount of edginess, has made her a unique presence in the indie pop-rock scene. The song featured some very big notes and was definitely not the easiest one to open with, but its upbeat feel and sprinkling of mild profanities (Al Sharpton, eat your heart out) actually made me smile and immediately drew in the rest of the audience. Kaywin announced that this would be the first acoustic performance of many on the night, and the talented songstress kicked things off right, earning some spirited applause and scattered "woop woop"s from the crowd (that never reads as well as it sounds in real life).
The acoustic version of "Girl in a Man's World" started with an edgy, rhythmic guitar line that was slightly reminiscent of Kelly Clarkson's "Never Again," if only because both numbers are noticeably lacking much in the way of sunshine and rainbows. Listening to "Girl in a Man's World" and hearing the variety in Kaywin's voice, I easily picked up on the Vanessa Carlton comparisons that are occasionally made. While her varying styles and well-controlled runs kept her performances fresh, it was when Kaywin reached for the higher notes, utilizing her energetic upper register, that her voice truly shined.   


My favorite performance of the night was "Twilight," a slower song with a catchy chorus. Kaywin displayed masterful control over her falsetto, utilizing a gentle, easy-on-the-ears tone during each verse and opening it up gloriously with the bigger notes during the chorus. To use a pop culture reference, it was like driving a pretty sweet car in The Fast and the Furious, cruising along smoothly at first, only to open the throttle, hit the "NOS!!!!!" (Vin Diesel, 2001, ladies and gentlemen), and waste the suburban thug wannabe in the rice rocket next to you who revved you a quarter mile back.

Kaywin then moved over to the keyboard to perform "On the Edge," which I was excited about after hearing her impressive sound check on the instrument earlier in the night (whether she meant to "kill it" during the sound check or not, I do not know, but she certainly did). When she started to play the melody, the audience immediately began cheering, as many of her fans were in attendance. The performance featured a catchy piano tune with some very breathy (kind of hot sometimes, not going to lie...) vocals that seemed to stretch her range in a challenging yet manageable way. Because it sounded a bit Vanessa Carlton-esque, I couldn't help picturing Shawn and Marlon Wayans, all dolled up and singing like two hot "White Chicks" from the Hamptons. On second thought, perhaps that's not the most flattering association, but suffice it to say that the performance was so impressive that the table next to me couldn't keep from declaring collectively, "That was so good!"

In "Butterflies," Kaywin mixed a rock-and-roll guitar intro with a heavily synthesized keyboard and some very Kina - "Girl From the Gutter"-like vocals. It was an interesting combination of sounds that was accented by Kaywin's well-measured use of falsetto. "Galileo," a slower pop song, felt a lot like a throwback to classic pop songs from the 80's and 90's. While I honestly wasn't wild about the rhythmic chorus on this song, the verses were solidly arranged and Kaywin performed a crowd pleasing piano solo at the song's conclusion. In "Random," Kaywin delivered on the song title's promise and gave us a slew of borderline silly lyrics, with topics like MySpace pages, bosses who don't shower, and the power of certain parts of the male anatomy (yes, weiners, ding dongs, tube steaks, magic sticks, etc.). While this wasn't my favorite performance on the night, it was definitely the first song I heard that felt like it was created from the random thoughts people have when they're either really tired, just waking up, fantastically baked, or perched on the toilet, cursing the Taco Bell they ate the night before (oh, but it is just sooo good...I love you CrunchWrap).


Next up was "Me with Me," the song Kaywin received much attention for after it was nominated for 2006 Pop Song of the Year by the Independent Music Awards. The celebrated song has a country-like guitar intro and, again, utilizes much of Kaywin's upper register on the chorus - not an easy song at all to perform. By this point, I was a fan of nearly any song that allowed Kaywin to let loose on the high notes with some freedom, and this was one of those songs. It reminded me a bit of an acoustic Alanis Morissette performance, and it was incredibly engaging to see how Kaywin braved each note and, in turn, how the notes consistently embraced her. She closed out the show with "Numb," a darker song in the style of Tori Amos, but with the necessary uplifting chorus. As she had managed to do all night, Kaywin's vocals embarked on some unique and energetic runs, moving the entire audience with her as she performed on stage.

Arden Kaywin has been called a "hidden gem" and a rising star in the pop music realm. While her sound is definitely not cut from the mold of our beloved teeny boppers ("Come On Over" by Christina Aguilera is still a great jam) and American Idol alumni (You know I love you, Carrie Underwood), she combines a unique blend of witty lyricism, varied melodies, and contrasting styles that are all held together by her bold and passionate vocals. By the end of the show, after witnessing a talent that is already recognized as a star waiting in the wings, I could not help but echo the sentiments of the Kaywin fans seated next to me: "That was so good."

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Arden Kaywin at Jimmy's Acoustic Courtyard in Hollywood, CA, August 7th, 2007:



Sweet review. sounds like another excellent artist.

Pastrami on Ry

Hey broham! Awesome review! She sounds like a great artist! I'll have to check her out some time.


Arden's definately on her way.Sweet review.Check her out on Myspace.Search Arden Kaywin.


woohoo! topher grace is sooo cute!


Great write up! Can't believe the pic, were you on stage with her or what?? I'll be looking into her music! Thanks!


All the artists have been amazing in the Jimmy's acoustic courtyard series but I have to say that Arden is for sure in the top 10 so far.


am i considered a hobbit as well? :)


Totally downloaded her album on itunes after I read your post.

Ashley Wool

YAY! I saw Arden Kaywin perform in NYC last year, and she really was fabulous. She's one of my favorite independent artists out right now, and it makes me so happy to see that she's really made a name for herself and that so many people enjoy her live show. This was a very entertaining review. :-D


DA, once again a charming review. There's so many places that I had no idea about. When I return we must hit these up. Love the bongwater smoothie!!


Independent and acoustic, two of my favorite words when talking musica. I'll have to look her up.


Ah, Alanis Morrisette look-a-like, she was the original, but yeah, good review.

tjeu wj

have a nice day
I'M thien minh

tiffany bracelet

In the Ming dynasty, the writer LiuYuanQing Nao an article entitled, "in the essay describes a story: a small figure, Nao with sharp claws. The tiger's head to itch, Nao climbed up to scratch itching, tiger felling. Scratch and Nao continually in the tiger's head dug a hole, tigers for comfortable but not perceive. The tiger Nao so as to eat delicious brain.

The comments to this entry are closed.

© 2010 Billboard. All rights reserved.
Terms Of Use and Privacy Policy.