L. Martin's At-Home Show: Where Artist and Audience Collide
By Montserrat Vazquez-Posada
In what looked like an abandoned building on a quiet street corner, Luke Martin Olson hosted about 50 people for a show, which he announced via a tweet. No concert venue, no line to get in, no barricade separating the crowd from the artist; this was the singer’s home.
Olson, the former frontman of The Walters, took up the solo project L. Martin shortly after the Chicago-based band announced their hiatus in the summer of 2017. He released two singles that same year, and eventually his EP Playful Enemy the following summer. Olson’s soothing voice and mellow incorporation of the electric guitar would have anyone convinced he’d put on a chill performance. Nope. The Kenosha native has an...eccentric...stage persona, to say the absolute least.
Olson has termed his home-turned-concert-hall the “Oval Office” because of the ceiling’s round cornice that resembles that of its Washington D.C. counterpart.
Weaving through the crowd of people, Olson would pause and lean back against the doorframe leading into the kitchen to cheer on his openers. Performing on what cannot be described as anything else but an elevated surface, Silas Short, Twin Talk, Mimic and Carlile preceded L. Martin.
The mix of sounds floated around the room, as did friends and fans alike. On the left side of the room, Esperanza Coffee Collective was giving out free cups o’ joe that people sipped while listening to Mimic manipulate the piano to create funky sounds or Twin Talk tear it up on the cello. The main room — lit by two small lamps and the ceiling’s dark red light — was interrupted by the bright white light from the kitchen that beckoned people toward it. Listeners poured in to grab another beer or admire the obscure mural of Charlie the Tuna, StarKist’s mascot, covering the window.
At around 11:00 pm, five hours after the event started, Olson took the stage with his younger brother Anthony Olson, Artie Do Good, Steven Rutledge, and Silas Short. Sporting chunky Skechers and cutoff Nike athletic pants, Olson came prepared to put in a workout. His energy on stage is unmatched. He is the textbook definition of “dance like nobody's watching.” You can see for yourself in an Instagram post promoting his latest single. Olson stopped to reminisce on his life as an artist and said that he can always picture his parents in any audience, which is why he gives every performance 110%. The way Olson danced at Lollapalooza in 2017 is parallel to how he cut loose in the living room of his Humboldt Park home.
Whether you were right in front of Olson, basically catching him so he wouldn’t trip off the platform, or leaning on the couch, his music circulated around the room perfectly. His earthy vocals supported by “Dirty Sheets’” hard-hitting harmonica had everyone dancing. Olson knows how to carry a crowd; he’d physically pick it up and shake it around if necessary.
Olson’s latest single “What Brought You Today” can be found on any “Chill Playlist” and is proof that whatever he has in store is destined to be good. If the obscure “Skipping Rocks” music video — which was filmed in the Oval Office — or his perfectly-crafted six-song EP is not enough to get you hooked onto L. Martin, one of his intimate shows is bound to make you a fan.