Ryan Beatty

Photos and Review by Emily Gringorten

On the second to last stop of his Calico Tour, Ryan Beatty’s stunning vocals took center stage and captivated a sold-out Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco on March 14th, 2024. The raw and intimate performance was a beautiful display of his unwavering passion for his music and gave the audience a chance to connect with him on what seemed like a personal level. 

With no opening act to warm up the night, the crowd waited anxiously yet comfortably for Ryan and his band to take their places; the venue was packed, but even right at the front fans showed respect to each other and didn’t invade the personal space of others. The modestly sized stage was filled to the brim with instruments including a drumset, piano, and multiple guitars. Around 8:15 PM his 6-piece band preceded him and began playing a soothing instrumental intro. Soon after, Ryan emerged with a cup of tea in hand and was met with a thunderous cheering and applause. He sat down, his band surrounding him like a crescent moon, and began the soft and heartfelt “Ribbons.” 

There’s no other way to describe Ryan Beatty’s voice other than “flawless.” From the moment he opened his mouth, the crowd listened in awe, hanging on every perfectly pitched word and singing along softly and respectfully. He showcased remarkable vocal control and tone, all while sitting down. The short but sweet setlist comprised mostly tracks from his 2023 release Calico, but also featured a few selections from Dreaming of David (2020) and Boy in Jeans (2018). I appreciate how he took the opportunity to differentiate his live sound from that of his recordings, including slowing down some of his more upbeat songs like “Powerslide” and adding in much more instrumentation. The addition of a steel guitar also gave his live renditions a little emotional twang that perfectly accentuated the themes of growth and vulnerability that are present in many of his songs. Other highlights for me included “Casino,” “Bright Red,” and “Haircut.” 

After I finished photographing, I headed to the back of the venue and found myself sitting at a candle-lit table. I surveyed the crowd and thought about how cozy yet elevated the whole experience felt with Ryan remaining seated the whole time, wearing a hoodie, and illuminated by a single spotlight. He wanted the audience to focus solely on the music, and this understated approach to performing is something that I wish more artists tried.

After “White Teeth,” the band took a brief exit from the stage before emerging for an encore. Ryan addressed the crowd and took some time to reflect on this run of shows which concluded the next day in his hometown of LA. He expressed his gratitude for San Francisco and the crowd, saying “I’ll be back, I’ll be back, I’ll be back” before going into a rendition of Lucinda Williams’ “Fruits Of My Labor.” Ryan then took some time to tell the crowd a funny story about an amazing sandwich he had that morning, letting out a bellowing laugh and forcing us all to take a deep breath to calm down before going into the emotional closer “Little Faith.”

Overall, this was a 10/10 performance from Ryan Beatty. I left the venue feeling refreshed and hopeful, like I just caught up with an old friend. It was one of those shows that reminded me why I love live music so much and I’m already counting down the days until I can see him live again.