Gavin DeGraw & Matt Nathanson Summer Krush – Review

By Lesa Browning

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Avila Beach Resort in San Luis Obispo was the place to be last weekend for a great pairing of  two hot singer/songwriters.  The beautiful California sunshine beside the sparking Pacific ocean was the perfect backdrop for a day of music celebrating summer. Radio station KRUSH 92.5 sponsored the all day event that brought locals of all ages to the premier beach concert venue.  With gates opening around lunch time, there was a full day of music, food, vendors and fun.  Not that anyone forgot why they were there, to hear both Gavin DeGraw and Matt Nathanson do their thing, but it was easy to slip into the relaxed atmosphere and just enjoy the day.  I love both of these guys.  I think this was the perfect pairing.  As you can probably guess I was thrilled to be there and had a great time!  Mary Lambert opened the event early in the day and was just another great addition to the superb sound.

By the time I settled into my Gold Circle seat it was already after 4 pm and Lambert had finished her set.  The crowd was relaxed and very happy.  Fans of all ages sipped cold drinks and munched on a variety of snacks while they waited for the headliners to come on stage.

Matt Nathanson came on stage and was full of energy.   This guy is just very cool.  It is hard  to find the right words to describe his incredible energy, personality, story telling and of course his raspy and sometimes flat out beautiful voice.  The music started the minute he was on stage and never ended until the last note of the final encore.  While he may be funny and a heart throb, this rock veteran is all about the music.  He played every song he chose like it was his favorite.  Nathanson’s latest album, “The Last of The Great Pretenders,”  is his ninth studio album.  We heard many songs from the newest collection as well as several from his last “Modern Love” album.  Of course we were all lucky enough  to get to join in for the 2008 hit Come On Get Higher.  The crowd loved every minute of it.  What were some of our favorites?  Faster, Modern Love, Run, Mission Bells and Kill the Lights were all memorable.  The song, and story that he told before singing Kinks Shirt were so great live. It was fun to watch Nathanson run around and interact with the fans, he really has a tremendous following. Sadly the set had come to an end and it was time for everyone to stretch, grab a drink and settle in for the final act of the night. At this point I went to the large merch booth to buy some stuff and after buying  two of Matt Nathanson’s shirts was rewarded with two neon wristbands to return at the end of  the night for a meet & greet.  This was a nice surprise!


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In a short while, Gavin DeGraw was finally on stage.  Now, I have seen DeGraw,  and knew exactly what to expect.  Like the man who came before him that night, DeGraw was all music and energy from the first note.  DeGraw has been touring in support of his fifth studio album, “Make A Move” for a while with great success.  This night seemed to be more relaxed and fun as he preformed songs from all over his career.  I think the hits from his last two albums were the biggest crowd favorites.  Best I Ever Had started us off and had the fans singing and cheering.  Make A Move, Not Over You, Soldier,  Finest Hour and Leading Man all got us on our feet dancing.  DeGraw also has a way with his fans and this evening would be no exception.  He told us stories about his songs and how he was inspired to write them.  He sang with abandon and really had a great time.  Down in the Gold Circle, we were having a blast.  So many great fans singing and dancing like old friends.  DeGraw brought us all together on this summer night in a very memorable way.

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When the last song was finished we made our way to the merch booth and eventually the line for the Matt Nathanson meet up.   Clearly we were not  the only ones buying multiple shirts, the line was quite long!  We also had a prearranged meet up with Gavin DeGraw that started at a specific time, so we decided we would have to miss Nathanson.  We found our way to the tour bus area where we were to meet Gavin DeGraw and joined a small group of excited people.  I watched as DeGraw spent individual time with everyone in  the group.  He signed posters, shirts and sometimes skin.  He listened as fans talked about what his music means to them and he seemed genuinely touched.  When it was our turn I introduced myself and he asked if he could sign my poster. (yes, please!)  He asked about how we enjoyed the show and we shared some back and forth about specific  songs and our own stories behind his lyrics.  He was SO kind and genuine, telling us how special it was to hear these things about his music.  My take away from Gavin DeGraw was that he is a deep, kind and gentle soul wrapped up in this incredibly talented musical package.  It was a pleasure to get a glimpse of the man behind the music. As we were exiting the tour bus area we saw lights on in the area Matt Nathanson was meeting his fans, so we decided to take a quick peek.  There were maybe a dozen folks left and we quickly jumped back in line.  It was only minutes before it was my turn to say hello and have a photo snapped on my iPhone.  What can I say?  Another SUPER nice guy!  Nathanson took the time to ask my name and how I enjoyed the show.  He was all smiles and energy, how I am not sure as he should have been exhausted! It is easy to see why both of these guys have had careers lasting more than a decade,  With phenomenal music and loyal fans, I hope to see them both around for a long time to come.

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If you need more info on either of these folk rock artists, check out their websites listed below.  Of course both are also all over social media with great stories and photos to share.  I would highly encourage you to check out the tour page for a city near you as they will be touring through the end of August.  If you have not done so already, get over to and download  their music! These are a couple you just don’t want to miss!