Johnnyswim consists of married duo, Abner Ramirez, who sings and plays guitar, and Amanda Sudano, who also sings, and a varying band. With their angelic voices, they create enchanting, folky music highlighted by their beautiful harmonies. Their music is primarily folk, with a presence of pop in songs like “Diamonds” and “Live Like We’re Young.” Perhaps their best song is “Heart Beat,” which breaks away from both genres and introduces an alternative vibe. Personally, I find their recorded music to be mediocre, as it is relatively plain. There simply isn’t enough power or interest. Because of this, their concert at Charleston Music Hall on September 17th exceeded my expectations. Live, their music had much more feeling, generated by their energy and expression. In comparison to their flat recordings, their live music had incredible dynamic. All in all, they were admirable performers. This talent seemed to come completely naturally, present both when they were playing music and when they were not.
Johnnyswim’s stage presence really improved the quality of their music. The appropriate amount of energy was held for each song. They moved around well, especially Amanda, who had to dance to occupy herself between singing parts. Abner interacted well with the rest of the band, which Amanda should have done more. Clearly, they couldn’t over-do the performance because they are folk, not a rock band. Still, they managed to occasionally get the audience on their feet and clapping and singing along. This was especially impressive because of the general older age of the crowd. The true power of their performance came from their emotion, whether it be love in their dainty cover of “La Vie en Rose,” anger in “Pay Dearly,” or joy in “Diamonds.” Every song was incredibly heart-felt, further bridging the gap between them and the audience.
Between songs, their tales and charisma held the audience. They were incredibly endearing. They were the kind of couple from a romantic comedy that seeing in a movie, I would roll my eyes and turn it off. But when that kind of couple exists in real life…magical. They received plenty of ‘aww’s and laughs as they teased and complimented each other. Brilliant storytellers, they shared hilarious and cute stories about their relationship, such as accidentally almost getting engaged at a French brothel. They even brought their baby on stage for a minute. Admittedly, their immense charm was nearly too much. They constantly flattered the city, which is a talent all performers must have no matter where they go, but with Charleston, it couldn’t be a lie.
While I admit I do not feel particularly passionate about the music, I would still undoubtedly recommend the show even to people who aren’t as partial to Johnnyswim’s genre, because the real highlight of the concert was the performance and getting to know the couple. The concert is perfect for anyone who just wants to go out and have a night of relaxed, yet engaged, entertainment.
Katie Beals, photos by Holden Curran
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