Alexander 23 (Alexander Glantz) concluded his Aftershock Tour at The Wiltern, in his adopted hometown, offering up heartfelt vocals and stellar guitar skills, probably resonating a bit more on his ballads than anything else, but also entertaining on his mid-tempo, pop/rock and experimental songs. For the final night of the tour, Glantz was joined by soul-pop singer Alaina Castillo and singer-songwriter Grace Enger.
Alaina Castillo‘s soulful opening set was an impressive showcase of her raw vocal skills as well as her presence on the stage, kicking off with “call me when ur lonely” in a skin-tight top, a leather skirt and black hat. She urged fans to leave their troubles outside and have fun before performing the sultry “ocean waves”, grooving while dancing and sliding her hand down her body while the big bass drum hit. The songbird took it up a notch on the dance-pop track “Tonight” and her effortless jazzy tone was lovely on “just a boy”. Castillo told the audience that she got her start making covers on YouTube and that she’s been in LA for two years, originally from Houston, prior to playing a funked up version of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams”. (Fun Fact: the same night the 80s band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame). Alaina Castillo discussed her new EP Fantasies which includes her opening track as well as the sexy tune “party in my head (ur not invited)”, a chance for her to show off some of her bilingual singing skills, while spinning around and shaking her body while the crowd cheered for more. Castillo introduced her drummer Glory Yard and guitarist/keyboardist Heidi Jáuregui before playing new uptempo track “fantasies”, soaring on her soulful vocals. Castillo shared with fans how much she loves Christmas and to get into the spirit she and her band played the flirtatious “wishlist”, in a Santa hat and the musicians wearing elf hats.
Beethoven’s 5th Symphony played on the sound system and the screen lit up with the words “ARE YOU FUCKING READY?” Alexander 23 hit the stage with his band and played “Cosplay”, sounding like an 80s stadium rock song, wearing a jacket over a t-shirt and baggy white pants. Hearts floated on the screen for “Girl” with its bluesy guitar and a strong instrumental later on. A Guitar Hero-type theme of visuals flashed the screen during the lively “Crash” with another standout guitar moment and the crowd loved the ending with Glantz battling with guitarist Sophie Giuliani.
The jacket was off Alexander 23 and he took hold of a big red guitar for 2022 pop/rock track “Cry Over Boys”, as the accompanying music video played, set at a dry cleaner. It was the first of a number of ballads that showcased A23’s impressive voice and dynamics when it comes to melody and emotion. He continued with “Somebody’s Nobody”, a powerful full band song with a wonderful vocal.
“Man, it is so great to be back in Los Angeles. Thank you for being here, we’re so happy that you are”. The band continued with “High School” and A23’s falsetto shined with beautiful, delicate guitar licks, like they were twinkling. It was one of the best vocals of the night. “This next one’s for anyone who’s been having a tough time lately”, said Alexander 23. On “Brainstorm”, a synthy opening took hold, building up to a kind of rock ballad, with appealing falsetto once again. The 90s-flavored “If We Were A Party” was a strong upbeat tune with grungy vibes and a great guitar break. The emotive “ill” offered yet another lively guitar moment between Alexander 23 and Giuliani.
It wasn’t a surprise that “Hardest Part” would be one of the most stirring songs of the night, with powerful lyrics and storytelling about personal loss, the colors in A23’s voice navigating fragile subject matter, echoed with his guitar. Glantz hit the piano for heartbreak ballad “RIP You and Me”, with his voice intensifying on the lyric “scared to death”. “Nothing’s The Same” was completely heartbreaking and perfect with singer Jeremy Zucker on stage as a special guest; their voices and guitars blended wonderfully. Alexander 23 introduced his other animated band members, Tyler Matte on drums and Petro on keys and bass, alongside Giuliani.
They continued with “Since U Been Gone” with a pink screen flashing with the Kelly Clarkson lyrics like it was the biggest karaoke sing-a-long ever. A23’s other love, sports, was on full diplay for the feel-good pop song “Dirty AF1s”, with Nike sneaks glowing on screen as he and his band rocked out. “Hate Me If It Helps” was intense and a montage of images flashed behind the musicians with another round of solid vocals. A faint hum of the crowd singing took over The Wiltern on Alexander 23’s “IDK You Yet”, truly shining again on the timeless ballad, playing the final guitar strums while laying on his back. He took in the energy of his fans and the four musicians, arm-in-arm bowed one last time.
Words by Michael Menachem
Images by Nicole Ditt