CONCERT REVIEW: Crystal Bowersox wows State Theatre crowd with soulful voice, genuine nature

“American Idol” runner-up Crystal Bowersox rocked the State Theatre on Monday with a bluesy set of original songs plus covers of some old favorites. This was an evening designed to impress an all-ages crowd.

The night began with State College musician Jason O, lead singer from the popular band My Hero Zero. Using live looping technology, he incorporated guitar, bass, vocals, harmonies, percussion, piano, harmonica, ukulele and trumpet into his own unique style, which he referred to as “seamlessly funky folk music with a pop twist.” Locally known as a looping artist and singer-songwriter, Jason also brought humor into his show and involved the audience, prompting them to stomp their feet and clap their hands to a beat he incorporated into his song. The crowd was entertained and inspired as he provided an enjoyable fun-filled show.

Bowersox and her band were smoking as they kicked off the evening with a mixed set of acoustic, country, folk, soul and blues-rock. With the soul of Janis Joplin and a robust, raspy voice that is beyond her years, Bowersox energized the crowd with Joplin favorites such as “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Piece of My Heart.” This was only fitting, as Crystal had performed these tunes during her time on “American Idol.” One could also hear a resemblance to Melissa Etheridge, Alanis Morissette and Sheryl Crow in her vocal styling and textures.

Also included in her set were selections from her 2010 debut album, “Farmer’s Daughter,” including the title track, songs from her latest full album, “All That for This,” and a few tracks from her 2012 EP “Once Upon a Time.” The EP features songs such as “Mama,” “Slut,” “Get Me Out” and “Outta My Mind.” Interspersed throughout her show, Bowersox gave the crowd a glimpse of her high-spirited, outgoing personality with light-hearted humor and engaged the audience with conversation as well as music.

The season-nine “Idol” runner-up has a voice that is so powerful and moving that it’s hard to imagine this 28-year-old Ohio native did not completely blow away all of her “Idol” competition and win it hands down. This young woman has an extraordinary gift that few people in this world possess.

Aside from being a multi-talented singer, songwriter and musician, Bowersox exuded a warm, genuine, sincere, down-to-earth personality, as she greeted fans following the show. She took time to shake hands, chat, sign autographs, take pictures, and politely and generously honor fan requests.

If Bowersox’s performance Monday night was any indication of what we can look forward to in the future, then the sky is the limit for this extremely talented and soulful young woman who continues to impress fans and critics with her impeccable musicianship. In addition, her warmth and beauty inside and out will no doubt continue to win over an ever-growing legion of fans all across the country.