by Brittany Adams
On Feb 2, John Allred travelled a great distance from Salt Lake City, Utah— just to play an hour-long set at Open Mic Night in the Underground. Despite the premiere of “Lost” on the same night, Allred drew a respectable crowd.
When asked about his choice to play at UMW, roughly 2,000 miles from home, Allred explained that his agent recommended the gig. “This place is really nice,” Allred said, referring to the Underground. “You can tell it’s new.”
Although usually joined by a five-piece band, Allred pulled off an impressive one-man show. He cites the Goo Goo Dolls and Jimmy Eat World as his biggest influences, and clearly incorporates their styles into his work, creating a perfect blend of their best qualities.
After explaining how he got his start playing covers in bars, Allred broke into a medley of chorus lines from popular, overplayed songs, including “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne and “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis. Other covers included U2’s “With or Without You” (Allred’s self-professed favorite song of the ’80s) and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”
Allred’s covers were well done, but he also played a few original songs he admits remain “almost completely autobiographical.” However, he strives to make his songs relatable.
According to Allred, “the great thing about music is its universality.”
One song, “Promise,” describes Allred’s desire for people to stay committed to one another, even while the two people are apart. He says the song is “super personal,” but he keeps the exact nature of the relationship ambiguous purposefully so more people can connect to its meaning.
Other original songs included “Radio,” (about the first happy night with a girlfriend) and “Losing Sleep.” Both songs are from his album “Sunrise/Sunset.”
For “Loop,” his latest album, Allred follows in the footsteps of Radiohead, offering his album on a name-your-own-price basis. He is unsigned, but says it suits him. By turning his music into a business deal, he worries a record company will take away his creative power.
He explains how plenty of “bands signed to labels are more famous, but they aren’t doing well, and they’ve had their artistic and creative power taken away.”
Currently, Allred is content with touring; if he is not performing in Utah, he relies on playing at colleges and universities. In his experience, the college market caters to independent, acoustic music. So long as he remains able to live off of writing and performing his music, he doesn’t care about getting signed.