Spencer Sutherland at The Moroccan Lounge in downtown L.A.'s arts district on August 12. (Ashley Ramynke / L.A. Times College Insider)
Santiago Canyon College

Review: Spencer Sutherland blurs lines between genres at sold-out L.A. concert

The Moroccan Lounge nestled in the industrial wonderland of downtown L.A.’s arts district flooded with a collection of young Angelenos, setting the scene for an important night for soulful, alternative pop singer Spencer Sutherland on Aug. 12. 

“Two years ago, I played this show and there were eight people there,” Sutherland said onstage. “So I know this is not an arena, but this feels so amazing.” 

Prior to “The Freaking Out” tour across North America, the Ohio native entered the music industry swinging with an extensive, soulful vocal range and radio-friendly pop songs in the early 2010s. He continued to attempt to establish his place in the world of pop music as a contestant on the U.K. show “The X Factor” in 2017.

Proceeding to diversify his catalog of only singles spanning across his career so far, Sutherland released his debut EP “NONE of this has been about you” on March 15. And the translation of the songs from the EP to his live show with such hypnotic energy help solidify his trajectory in the music industry.

Opening his sold-out L.A. show with song “Tell Me,” he brought a level of anthemic rhythm and blues with a soulful essence that set forth a precedent of beautifully executed pop music amalgamating different genres that rapidly shifted with no discrepancies.

Continuing the set, Sutherland outfitted in a sequined jacket over a white turtleneck, black skinny jeans and white Vans brought not only a strong musical presence with help from guitarist Jordan Millisor, drummer Matthiessen Nisch Quan and keyboardist Andrew Willard but a grand stage presence.

Speeding between both corners of the stage and occasionally drifting to the microphone stand at center stage, he also stood atop prop boxes that allowed him to serenade more of the audience than just those in the first row.

Then integrating covers of other contemporary pop artists, Sutherland brought a more alternative edge from his soulful, pop introduction with “Youngblood” by 5 Seconds of Summer. And again demonstrating his impressive vocal range when chorus “Youngblood/Say you want me, say you want me out of your life/And I’m just a dead man walking tonight,” hit.

Transitioning to a more slowed down, indie nature, fans scattered across the audience held up little paper cut-outs of red houses as the initial notes from song “It May Sound Strange” filled the venue with emotion. 

“This is a really important song to me — it’s a love song. And I hope you guys connect with it like I do because it’s super important to me.” 

After tearing the audience’s heartstrings and dripping with vulnerability, the energy was resurged as Sutherland played unreleased song “Leave Me Alone” that juxtaposed the romanticism of the prior song as alluded to in the title to the sound of a howling acoustic guitar continuing his indie essence.

Fellow unreleased song “Lemons” lacked continuity between Leave Me Alone” and encapsulated a heavily pop sounds that also brought in elements of rap music and hints of an edgy, alternative sound in line with artists like Twenty One Pilots.

Coming full circle to a similar soulful, pop essence with elements of R&B seeping in the opening portion of his set, Sutherland quickly ran backstage and returned in a mustard-colored sweater that read “My Sweather” for the song promptly called “Sweater,” which has been a standout song off his debut EP. 

After returning to the stage, he once again ran backstage and returned with his microphone. Laughing with the audience, he explained before officially jumping into the song, how he forgot his microphone when putting on his sweater and thus causing him to madly dash backstage.

And despite the minor setback, the audience resonated with the humorous scenario and relatable lyrics detailing the feelings of simply being over someone all with a prevalent jazz, pop sound that allowed to the show to end with the audience grooving and feeding off of the whirlwind energy presented over the last 14 songs.

Wasting little before returning for the encore, Sutherland closed the show with the 2017 single “Selfish.” And regardless of the short time span between this single’s release and where he is in his career currently, the growth exhibited and maturity in his music is something special.  



  1. Tell Me
  2. Freaking Out
  3. Fine
  4. Wallpaper
  5. Youngblood (5 Seconds of Summer cover)
  6. It May Sound Strange
  7. Leave Me Alone
  8. thank u, next (Ariana Grande cover)
  9. NONE of this has been about you
  10. Lemons
  11. Bad Influence
  12. Shame
  13. Talk
  14. Sweater
  15. Selfish