We are in Long Beach. This crowd is very Long Beach, which in the lifespan of hip is an awkward adolescent, trapped somewhere between O.C. boy and L.A. man. But they are stirring in this dark club and it's about f–king time. Live, the sound is flawless, and all from just a synth, bass and Samuel Herring on the mic. Herring is the show. His voice seesaws between rattling snarl and soothing falsetto — impeccably. On stage, he gestures to the crowd with each lyric like a politician at the podium. They are halfway through "Balance" and nailing it. And you can clean around the wound/ But if you want it to heal — it just takes time. He continues, veins popping from his forehead, a crazed dictator inciting revolution. Because before the morning comes/ There's a certain calm — and then there's light. He is kneeling on the floor now in front of a hundred fans, practically weeping, reciting Shakespeare to each one individually. Long Beach and I are bewildered, swaying, hanging on his every word. Herring isn't much to look at. He is balding, a little old, a little overweight. His face is greasy with perspiration. He's the uncle that your family lets live in the side room for little or no rent because he's always been socially awkward, or maybe just artistic. The entire crowd can't keep their eyes off him. —Beau Flemister