From the wishlist:
28. “By My Side” by David Choi
29. David Choi by my side at Chick-Fil-A

I can’t exactly remember when or how I came across David Choi’s music, but I’m certain it was on YouTube. I remember seeing AJ Rafael’s cover of “That Girl” and wondering if David Choi was some big-shot international superstar I hadn’t heard of – yet. I remember watching Wong Fu Productions’ “When Five Fell” and hearing David’s voice narrating for the pair of eyeglasses. I remember David’s love song to Chick-Fil-A.

David’s style is somewhat hard to describe because it is rather eclectic. His songs range between blues, pop ballads, and acoustic pop-soul (is that even a genre?) among other styles while others are heavily produced and layered. Whatever the style, Choi demonstrates his mastery of music, production, and instrumentation with his arrangements and vocal artistry.

The “Forever and Ever” USA/Canada tour brought David to Philadelphia’s World Cafe Live on March 24th. I put out the call on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to go, because I’m a bit hesitant to attend concerts in Philly by myself. It’s partly for social reasons and partly “I don’t want to be in Philly alone late at night.”

WHAT?! David Choi himself liked my Facebook status? Now I have to go!

When my sister and I got to the concert venue, my sister chuckled at how many Asians were there. It’s not surprising, I tried to explain to her. Musicians with large followings on YouTube, especially musicians of Asian descent, usually have lots of Asian fans. “No, really,” she said. “Everyone here is Asian, or they’re here with someone Asian!” (My parents thought the same thing at Kina Grannis’ concert last year.)

Edamame Hummus

The concert was standing room only, and all of the dining tables were reserved. We decided to grab a seat at the bar, which were the unreserved seats closest to the stage. To avoid potential awkwardness, we ordered food and drinks to give us reason to sit there all evening. I had coffee and the edamame hummus platter (“served with fresh cut cucumber and jicama, baby carrots, olives & grilled pita”), and my sister had their featured grilled cheese (with wild mushrooms) and a Pinot Grigio. The food was absolutely delicious! Thanks to the friendly bartenders for their excellent recommendations!

As people entered the room, they took spots on the floor between us and the stage. To our left were two guys donning Wong Fu’s “Nice Guy” T-shirts. Next to them was a young couple who spent the evening in each other’s arms, her head on his shoulder. To our right was a guy who introduced himself as Ben; eavesdropping told me he is the brother of Judah Kim, the opening act. Ahead of us was a gaggle of teenage girls who were so giddy to see David in concert. We still had a fairly decent view of the performers, though it was sometimes much easier to watch the concert on the screens of cell phones whipped out to record each song.

Opening for David was Judah Kim of Philadelphia’s Stonethrown. He played mostly original music, though the crowd definitely enjoyed the acoustic covers of Neon Trees’ “Animal” and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Judah had a clear voice and a strong rhythm that lent itself to countertop drumming. Each song was a great musical performance, and his style reminded me of a long train ride from the big city to the Midwest.

After a brief intermission, David came out with his band (Josh Doyle on drums and Kurtis Keber on bass) to perform a mix of new songs from “Forever and Ever” and well-loved favorites – all original songs, though. Some favorites included “Won’t Even Start,” “That Girl,” and “By My Side,” which closed out the show. Instant favorites for me included “Underneath Your Love” and “Rollercoaster,” which was appropriately interrupted by the passing train. During the show, David also gave out two pairs of Skunkjuice ear buds, which are featured in the music video for “Better You.”

David had a meet-and-greet after the show. Though my sister probably would have preferred to head out (it was getting late in the evening), she agreed to stay when I agreed to drive home. Many people were very excited to meet David. One girl was so excited after meeting him that she left without her stuff and then almost ran into the glass door when she came back to get it. When I got to the merchandise table, I purchased both “By My Side” and “Forever and Ever” (concert sale price: $10 each). The hired muscle that David brought along made sure that the line kept moving. He directed me around the table for a picture after I gave David my CDs to sign.

David: Have I met you at a previous show?
Me: No… But I figure when the artist likes your Facebook status, you go to the show.
Ahhh… Maybe that’s what it was. Maybe I recognize you from Facebook.
[Picture-taking time!]
Thanks for coming!
It was an awesome show!
Nice earrings.
(Well, I think that’s what he said. I can’t be sure about the earrings part, but everything else is pretty accurate.)

Since the show, I’ve been listening to both CDs in my car and love every track. My sister said that David’s music reminds her of the TV show How I Met Your Mother. David’s songs, like HIMYM protagonist Ted Mosby, can be characterized by optimistic melancholy – a hopeful, sometimes even upbeat, loneliness. (She also said the bass player kinda looked like Ted, and according to the show, the mother of Ted’s kids plays the bass.) I’m slowly learning the lyrics to all the songs and hope to include both albums in my lyric type design series.

Two wishes granted! I now own “By My Side” and briefly had David Choi by my side (though not at Chick-Fil-A). Perhaps on my next trip to Pasadena, we can make that happen. (On my last trip, David was a few blocks away at the WFP office, and I was very tempted to stop by…) Then I can cross #20 off my “30 Before 30” bucket list: have a face-to-face conversation with a celebrity, preferably over a meal. Hope to see you again soon, D. Choi!

Support David Choi:
Twitter: @davidchoimusic


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