- Vanderpump Rules -Nothing Prepared Me For My Time At A Tom Sandoval Concert
I’ve seen a lot of live music in my day – from the prolific queen of cabaret Countess Luann to Britain’s finest DJ James Kennedy spinning the ones and two – but nothing, I repeat nothing, prepared me for what I saw on November 14 at the Hotel Café in Hollywood.
I met some friends on that unseasonably warm Sunday evening for what we knew would be a night of revelry, but underneath all of that excitement, I was nervous. Hotel Café is an iconic small venue in Los Angeles, known for being a kind of musician’s clubhouse, a frequent home for some of the great singer-songwriters of our time and I knew there were some people there for the schadenfreude of it all, so the pressure was on. Tom Sandoval & The Most Extras had a lot to prove.
The log line for Sandoval's band is this: "Tom Sandoval & The Most Extras is the latest musical passion project of actor, model, and restaurateur, Tom Sandoval. For nine seasons, Tom has starred on the hit Bravo reality series, Vanderpump Rules. There is nothing Tom does on a small scale, and this band is no different. Tom has gathered an eclectic group of fun, sing-a-long cover songs that you can’t help but dance to."
See what I mean? A lot to prove.
As I started sipping my first vodka soda of the evening, DJ James Kennedy took the stage. Sadly, he didn’t play his club hit “Topman,” which made me think he is in fact a bad man, until he yelled out to the crowd, “This is not my night! This is Tom’s night!” and we all cheered, because it was.
After that killer set-up, Tom and his nine-piece band (yes, you read that right, nine) took the stage. Wisely choosing an eclectic group of musicians to back him, the band played fun, sing-along covers any crowd would love. Basically: bangers. All freaking bangers.
From “Rosana” by Toto to Rick Springfield’s “Jesse’s Girl” where Tom changed the lyrics to be “Schwartz’s Mom,” The Pretenders' “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” in full Scottish accent, and DNCE's “Cake by the Ocean,” which Tom introduced by saying “this next one is about easing ass!” Iconic.
And maybe it was the shots of tequila I was downing, but hearing Tom’s take on the The O.C .theme song – Phantom Planet’s “California” – almost brought tears to my eyes. Listening to his fully-committed take on that classic teen soap anthem really made me feel for Tom, a man who came to California with a dream– not of tending bars or reality television stardom– but to be a respectable musician. At least for the night, it felt like that dream came true.
Tom, like every great performer, takes every song so seriously that while the most jaded in the crowd might find it corny, almost everyone else embraced the unironic fun of it all. It may have been the booze, but I found myself questioning whether there was something wrong with me if I couldn’t embrace the commitment to the bit when there isn’t a wink behind it all. Tom truly put everything into this show, playing two sets of 10 songs each, changing costumes twice, and ultimately, it was amazing to see.
What was also amazing was at the end of the first set, I spotted Raquel Leviss and DJ James Kennedy in the front row supporting their fellow castmate, and I saw a large section of the ceiling fall right on Raquel’s head. See photo:
Thankfully, it didn’t hit her nose, which would have cost her another $30,000 dollars to fix. No joke, after this happened, I went up to her and said, “Thank god it didn’t hit your nose,” because obviously this has been her story line all season. She looked up at me with her big doe-eyes so perplexed, totally not understanding her own reference. Ugh, what a joy. God bless you Raquel and RIP to Requennedy (yes, I just made up their couple name).
At this point I was on my fifth vodka soda and looked over to see Ariana Madix dancing her face off in the front row. The night had turned into an unofficial episode of VPR – something we ticket-buying concert-goers not only needed, but we deserved. (Tickets ranged from $28-$48, pre-fees, btw.)
No, Lala Kent and Randall Emmett were not there, and obviously Jax Taylor wasn’t there, but seeing Tom Schwartz watch from the audience with so much love in his eyes, buying everyone shots like the proud husband he is, and in turn seeing Sandoval gaze out at him, really made me believe that the Toms are not only actually in love, but that their love far surpasses the purely sexual and rolls into the soul mate/twin flame category I can only dream of experiencing.
Sandoval spoke to Page Six last month saying, “Everyone benefits from a band like ours… People are going to come, they’re going to be able to jam out and they know the words to these songs. They’ve been listening to them for years and years. It’s fun in that way.”
And you know what? He’s totally right.
He may have dreamt of being a “serious” musician, but not so much that he doesn’t know his real strengths: charisma and being willing to give the people what they want. Cover bands and their close-cousins, wedding bands, don’t get the prestige or fame but listening to Tom and his nine bandmates, I realized they give us something special.
Until that night at the Hotel Café, I’d forgotten how fun it can be to listen to a band play the hits. I mean, I’m not going be following them to gigs, hanging out in the parking lot hawking tapes of my favorite sets – “Dude, did you hear 'Roxanne' from the January 15th show?” – but I will tell you there is a January 15th, 2022 show at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, California, and I can almost guarantee you’ll get to experience VPR shenanigans first hand, and you'll dance your face off, too.
And the ceiling probably won’t fall on your head.
Feature image: Tom Sandoval/Instagram