Monday, March 28, 2005

The Black Crowes Report Card

I've had never been more excited to see a band that I knew less about than on Friday night.

I mean, I know Chris Robinson is cool as hell, and I know he's got a brother Rich that plays the gee-tar and writes the music, and I know Marc Ford is a great guitarist and he's back in the band for the first time in like 8 years, and I know this is their reunion tour after about three or four years on a break, and I know about six songs they play. Other than that, all I really knew is that the Crowes kick ass. So we went, and here's what we found out:

Opening Act: The Soundtrack of Our Lives
A buddy of mine from work recommended these fellas after he saw 'em a few months ago. And while they weren't terrible, they weren't all that good either. They were, however, the most wildly entertaining up-and-coming rock band I've ever seen, although I'm not sure how intentional that part was. These guys either learned how to be a rock band by watching concert videos of old-school rockers like Townshend and Angus and Keith or by strictly following Jack Black's lessons and tips to the talented, yet un-rock-educated kids in School of Rock.

The two guitarists wore matching red button-down shirts, and one even had his wide open by the end of the set; these two jokers also windmilled and jump-kicked and synchronized twirl-jumped at every conceivable opportunity; two dudes converged to sing into the same mike on occasion; the lead singer, clad in a dashiki of sorts, thought he was rocking the fuck out of this tambourine, playing games like Switch Hands with the Mike and the Tambourine Real Fast, tossing the tambourine up real high and, get this, catching it; the keyboardist stood up the whole time and peered into the audience, clapping along to the beats with arms raised high above his head. These guys were just unimaginably cliche and unintenionally hilarious.

Grade: Music C-/Entertainment A+

Resemblance to Stillwater
From about 30 feet back on the floor where we were standing, I coulda sworn we were seeing the fictional band Stillwater and their hit "Fever Dog." Chris Robinson looked exactly like Jason Lee in that movie, a moustachioed Marc Ford looked exactly like Billy Crudup, the rest of the band was fairly nondescript and fucking head Band-aid Penny Lane was hanging out on the side of the stage. I half-expected Ben Fong Torres to call me up and ask me if I could send over my notes via the Mojo. Eighteen minutes a paaage. Crazy.

Grade: A+

Chris Robinson's Coolness
What if I told you I was gonna wear a Blanche Devereaux-like scarf on stage the whole night? Would you believe that I could be the coolest rocker in the world? Of course not. But C-Rob is soooo cool it's frightening, a guy with crazy ass pipes and a whole lotta soul. Plus he sticks his P in Kate Hudson's V, so he's got that going for him.

Grade: A

The Venue
I've never liked the Hammerstein Ballroom. Donnie's never liked the 'Stein (ever since a hippie chick pushed him down during a Trey show last year). And I didn't like it Friday night either, being waaay too packed on the floor. The acoustics were decent, almost too loud, but I really don't like the general admission on the floor there. Gotta figure out what to do before Trey comes back to town in May.

The lone bright spots were the sightings: Ms. Hudson was in the VIP section to the left, Little Stevie/Sylvio Dante in the VIP section to the right. Donnie also swears he saw the Olsen Twins, but I didn't get verification on that, and the Crowes didn't cover Jesse Katsopolous' "When Michelle's Smiling."

Grade: C-

Now...The Music
The Crowes opened the night with a rousing rendition of "Don't Do It," a song made popular (at least to me) by The Band. At that point Donnie looked at me and said, "We should probably walk out right now, it's not gonna get better than that." And it didn't.

Well, I enjoyed most songs, but they never once blew me away (after the opener). They didn't blow me away with their jams, their songs, their lyrics, whatever. I had a great time, danced to a few songs, bobbed my head to the rest, but had I known I'd have to pay $50 for only 100 minutes of just above average music, I never would have gone. That's not entirely true, but you know what I mean.

"Thick 'n Thin" was pretty cool, "Good Friday" was both super-appropriate (hey, it is Good Friday today!) and musically pretty good and "Soul Singing" is one of my favorite Crowes songs.

But this is a reunion tour for a band with a fairly limited repertoire...where's "Hard to Handle"? Where's "She Talks to Angels"? Where's "Remedy"? I understand this was a six-show run, but they couldn't play any of their biggest hits and best songs that night? (I know that sounds ironic coming from a Phish fan that loves how his favorite band plays different songs every night, but this is quite a different band with a much smaller cache to choose from).

Grade: B

Overall Thoughts
I liked the show, I really did. But when the band stopped playing at 10:45 before taking a mellow three-song encore, I wasn't entirely disappointed it was over. And that's saying something, I guess. That's a reaction I never want to experience after a show. You always want the music to go on forever, you want the band to turn into Benny Mardones and take you into the night and show you love, like you've never seen, ever seen. I didn't feel the Mardones touch on Friday, as much as I wanted to.

So in summation, see The Soundtrack of Our Lives for hilarity, see the Crowes for resemblance to Stillwater and check out the VIP section for Penny Lane, Sylvio Dante and the Olsens.


At 12:55 PM, Blogger Wooglin said...

I'm fairly sure I can corroborate Donnie's Olsen sighting. However, perhaps even more intriguing than America's favorite split embryo, was the fact that a member of the concert party left prior to the encore because he apparently "got engaged" the night before!? Has there been any confirmation on this? If its true, then this guy is my hero.

"Sweetheart, I love you will all of my heart. Will you marry me?"

"Great. By the way, I got tix to see the Crowes tomorrow night so I won't be around."

Very nice.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Damn, Wooglin the Frock Coat Wearer, how could that have slipped my mind? There has been no confirmation as to my knowledge whether he officially got engaged the night before or not, but I'm guessing it's true.

For those in the dark, a guy we came with looked at Donnie during the encore and said, "I gotta go." Donnie asked why, and we're pretty sure he responded, "I proposed last night." So either he was getting his answer after the Crowes show or he totally ditched his new fiancee to see the Crowes.

Either way, that's great stuff.

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Mitchell VergerDartz III said...

An innocent yet subtle e-mail nudge from my close, personal friend -- the A.C. -- notwithstanding, the mere notion of anything that has anything to do with everyone's favorite late-80's monster ballad, "When Mee-chelle's Smiling," would've sprung me into action today faster than you can say "Wake up San Francisco!"

I was in NYC this weekend for a brief and fulfilling visit, but my only encounter with anything Crowes-related came on Saturday night, when a completely hammered, average-looking mid-30's couple put on quite a stirring rendition of some B.C. tune (the name of which escapes me at the moment) outside the bar Ginger Man around 1 a.m. They were having fun, so that's good enough for me.

Inside the bar, incidentally, I got into a minor tiff with the proprietor over his decision to turn off SportsCenter after perhaps the best March Madness doubleheader in the history of history. He maintained his establishment wasn't a sports bar, and I simply conveyed to him that his patrons that night would most likely be talking about sports and nothing else ... but then I realized he was huge and looked like a member of the O'Doyle family (they rule, by the way) ... and so I conceded his point and moved on with my evening.

Great weekend, highlighted of course by the annual Mustard's Fantasy Baseball draft ... we tried to procure a stripper via a posting on craigslist to aid in the draft process, but to no avail. I'm sure A.C. will provide the link, it's really quite entertaining.

Opening day coming soon ... I live for this.

At 4:20 PM, Blogger Mitchell VergerDartz III said...

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At 4:43 PM, Blogger Bart Starbux said...

Hey-o Bullet,

Hate that I missed that show. Laid up with the flu all day and night. At least I had some basketball to tide me over.

As the roommate of the above mentioned man in question, I can lay to rest all doubts about his engagment. He dirtied up his knee on Thursday, saw the Crowes on Friday. Respett.


At 9:07 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

VergerDartz, welcome to the machine.

Bux, glad you're feelin' better, good sir. And thanks for clearing up the mystery of the engaged escape artist. Good work by your boy, gettin' engaged one day, seein' the Crowes without the fiancee the next.


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