Alec Benjamin feels like someone you’ve met before, the unassuming guy next door who plays guitar and you had a crush on growing up–but now, he’s playing for a sold-out crowd in his hometown of Los Angeles. Benjamin brought his vulnerable lyrics and awkward humor to the El Rey Theatre on Thursday night (May 9) for the first of two shows to close out his Outrunning Karma tour.
“I used to play on the street outside this very theater,” he explained to the crowd, reminiscing on the days where he would perform “parking lot shows” for fans outside of Shawn Mendes and Troye Sivan concerts, handing out business cards and building his brand the old fashioned way.
“I thought about how one day I might play inside. Today is the day,” he chuckled to a roaring group of fans, famous friends, his parents and his sister. His hour-and-a-half set included all the major hits, including “1994,” “Water Fountain” and “Let Me Down Slowly,” all of which were barely heard over the fervent crowd, who consistently cheered and passionately sang the lyrics back to Benjamin. The tunes were weaved with funny and sweet personal anecdotes about how he’s feeling in the moment and why he wrote the songs.
Oh, and he also brought out John Mayer. While the 24-year-old crooner appeared on Mayer’s Current Mood Instagram Live show in the past, Benjamin’s giddiness to stand onstage with his idol was as pure and relatable as it gets. “This will embarrass you,” he said to Mayer. “From the time I was 12 to when I was 18, because when I was 18 I moved out and in the dorm I couldn’t have a poster, but I had a poster of John on my wall. Literally next to my bed, so this is really cool.”
He proceeded to perform his smash single “Death Of A Hero,” funny enough, alongside his real-life hero Mayer on guitar and supporting vocals. The two then delved into the 41-year-old star’s tune, “Slow Dancing In a Burning Room.”
Benjamin ended his set with Mayer by bashfully asking him to take a “stage photo” together. It was a stand out moment of the night, a heartwarming reminder of Benjamin’s relatability as he took a break from his role as pop’s biggest rising star to be just a normal kid eagerly asking his idol for a picture.
See Benjamin’s Instagram post below, complete with the “stage photo” end result and the poster on the wall he mentioned. “heroes do exist,” he sweetly captioned the moment.
quick update… heroes do exist. last night was a dream come true. thank you @johnmayer for joining me on stage & for inspiring me to make music. you are one of the most talented, humble, & generous human beings i have ever met. i love you & i feel very lucky to have you in my life.??. **last pic is the poster I had on my wall of John when I was growing up & have kept all these years**