The Grog Shop is just one of the most well-known venues in Cleveland. A one room venue with a corner stage, just a foot off the ground, and a bar in the back creates an intimate if not overwhelming atmosphere. Everyone stands shoulder to shoulder, making idle chatter about the (horrible) weather until the music started. Then the people become a united crowd, a force brought together by music.

That was what the Allen Stone concert was all about. Bringing people together through the power of music.

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“In addition to the fantastic music, it was Jared & The Mill’s stage presence that really won the crowd over…”

The band that came on before Allen Stone was Jared & The Mill, a folksy rock band from Phoenix Arizona. Formed in 2011 with two releases under their belt, Jared & The Mill are still relatively up and coming. Going to the concert, a lot of the attendees (including myself) hadn’t heard of the band before. By the end of their set though, the whole crowd was singing along with them.

The music itself was beautiful. Soft and sweet at points, ambitious and loud the next. The unique instrumentation paired with beautiful lyrics and an amazing vibe did a lot to draw the crowd in. In addition to the fantastic music, it was Jared & The Mill’s stage presence that really won the crowd over. They communicated with the crowd, cracking jokes and loosening the crowd up. Their music flowed right into that.

The set wasn’t too high energy, but it their music definitely did a lot to create an energy in the room. Where people in the crowd were just standing around in their respective social circles talking to each other beforehand, they were all together, hugging and saying “I love you” to strangers towards the end of the set. As the most vocal member of the band, Larry Gast III, said, they “made the love happen.”

“He puts everything he has into the performance, and as a result, the show was just as unique and entertaining as Stone himself. It was like the crowd as a whole melted into the music.”

There was a nice wait between Jared & The AllenStone-GrogShopMill and Allen Stone. Plenty of time for patrons to buy some grog, chat with band members, chat with each other, and get plenty amped up for the following acts. The intimate one room venue, with a stage at one end and a bar at the other, did a lot to help create an intimate atmosphere and help unite the crowd. The time passed all too quickly, and Allen Stone came to the stage with a bounce in his step and a grin on his face.

One of the most memorable things about his concert, and one that many noticed right from the start, is that he doesn’t sound anything like the CD-version. He started out with a funkier version of “Celebrate Tonight,” his whole band going along with the flow of the music rather than getting the notes perfect. The crowd flowed with it, slowly amazing into this single unit. They flowed from one song right into the next, very rarely pausing for audience applause. He puts everything he has into the performance, and as a result, the show was just as unique and entertaining as Stone himself. It was like the crowd as a whole melted into the music.

In a certain way, it was almost like going to church. Allen Stone didn’t preach any particular religion, and he didn’t even mention God once. Instead the messages he preached were love and positivity, believing in yourself and the kindness of others. He shared how he clears out the bad, negative thoughts from his head each morning so that he’s able to walk through life with confidence and positivity, and shared the methods with his fans.

At the end of the concert, he had the whole crowd singing the words: “I want some free love, I want some free love. Give it to me.” His definition of free love was the act of giving love, expressing love, without anything asked for or expected in return. You had the crowd singing this verse for what must have been at least ten minutes, with arms wrapped around each other and smiles on their faces. Everyone walked out of there feeling loved. It was an amazing evening, where love and positivity vibrated off of each and every person there. Even if you weren’t a fan of Allen Stone, the concert was memorable. It’s hard to believe that a single person walked out of there disappointed.

You can find both Allen Stone and Jared & The Mill on Spotify, Facebook, Twitter, and more.

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