Let's start at the beginning, a very good place to start:
Grog Spot- Cleveland Heights
This tiny little venue couldn't hold much more than 300 people which made for a lovely intimate little show.
The opening acts were wonderful. Jarrod Gorbel (weird huh?) sang with little fanfare than his female companion, a guitar, and violin. His lyrics were intense and gut wrenching and I really liked it.
Steel Train followed. They had a much different vibe, sound and presence. Lots of band members, lots of instruments, lots of over the top, borderline try-hard, crowd interaction. They weren't bad, not even a little, just kind of hyper intense.
And then it was time for fun. And they were. The crowd, average age 21, were fully into the band, though not so much their former incarnation The Format. Nevertheless, for a Sunday night everyone was super amped for them.
They sounded really good, record good.
I may or may not have cried during The Gambler. Don't judge me until you've heard it. And then once you've listened to it, if you didn't cry you are clearly either a) a bad person b) have never loved someone enough. That is all.
Monday: Band of Horses
House of Blues, Cleveland
Opening acts made me want to leave, stab out my ear drums, claw out my eyes, and cry. SO BAD. What were you thinking BoH?
Josh Roberts needs Prozac, he sat on the stage with his guitar and droned on and on and on. The only relief we got was when Ben (lead singer of BoH) came onstage and sang a duet. During one of Roberts' songs he repeated a lyric 16 times in the row. 16. It wasn't a good lyric.
Also, something to note, if you have to apologize to the audience for how slow and awful your songs are, then maybe just don't sing them... I'm just saying.
It was bad. We used that opportunity to leave our super deluxe close seats in the pit to go up to the balcony. Someone was feeling a little crowded and didn't want to stand for the next few hours.
We got upstairs just in time for Brad to take the stage. I want you to try to picture in your head the sidekick from My Name is Earl, put a long long long black stringy wig on him, and a black fedora. Then picture him dancing like the lead singer from Mighty Mighty Bosstones. And then sitting at a piano and singing a desperate attempt at mimicking the great Meatloaf.
This is what he really looks like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawn_Smith
It was actually worse than the first act, I really didn't realize that was possible, and yet, it was.
After a lengthy pause for all of the audience to wrap up their facebooking, texting, reading, vomming, anything to distract them from the unpalatable opening bands the Horses took the stage.
As bad as the first acts were they were twice as amazing and wonderful in every way.
It's a like Cinderella, she is pretty and nice and great on her own, but when you compare her to her harridan step sisters she ends up angelic in nature and beauty. This was kind of like the effect the craptastic Josh and Brad did for the Horses.
We had managed to secure a stool against the railing of the House of Blues' balcony so one of us was sitting and the other stood behind with an unobstructed view of the glory and wonder that was before us.
They sounded so sick. This is why I don't listen to the crap on the radio, real bands have musicians. People with real talent that sound great in their living room, the studio and the stage. It was such a great show.
They were super funny, bringing out a local competitive yo-yo artist (?) to do his thing during two of their songs, and again, sounded so so so good. I finally got to listen to them as loud as I always want to.
Thursday: The Temper Trap
Newport Music Hall, Columbus
The opening acts were odd... not really the music we listen to.
The Hundred in Hands reminded me of Jarrod Gorbel, only in that it was a male female duo on stage. HiH featured a female vocalist that was beautiful and had a ridiculous voice, but the most affected dancing and stage presence, it made me want to kick her in the shins. The guitarist was sick though, and they did sound great, it was just tough to watch her to convulse.
Then was Delphic. Oh, they are good. Again, nothing I'd typically listen to, but man, they were really good. I got a little confused when I asked the merch guy what their name was and was fully convinced for a hour or so they were called Delphonic and almost bought their cd because Delphonic doesn't have their album on iTunes (because they were a band from the 60s that didn't do too much), but fortunately my buddy fixed that one for me in my head.
We had a bit of an issue with being really tired from work and thinking that sitting in one of the six chairs ringing the pit was a good idea. It wasn't. There was a minorly negative interaction with a terribly annoying pair of humans, but that didn't affect the awesomeness that was The Temper Trap.
They are very polished, very professional. They aren't much one for interacting with the audience, they just play and play and play, but they sounded really good.
We ended up behind the sound guy with a very unobstructed view of the stage for the super deluxe highlight of the show when the lead singer poured water on his drum and then just tore into it during the big musical crescendo with strobe lights flashing. It sound small and cheesy. It wasn't, they were so non-flashy, non-interactive, this was a really big change and really cool. Jaw dropping even.
Newport Music Hall, Columbus
The opening act was okay, I was super exhausted from walking all over Columbus and might have fallen asleep while they were playing, not because they were bad or particularly sleep inducing, I was just really tired. It was all guys, they were in plaid flannel, they played rock or something.
Now, before we go any further I need to talk to you about the first time I saw Guster. It was April of last year, in Austin, we were 2 people away from the stage. It was warm out, and we were fully surrounded by Gusteroids that were having a fantastic time. It was easily one of the best nights and trips of my life.
So, I was a little nervous. How could they possibly compare to that?
I'm a silly little rabbit though. They came out and played and we sang from our perches in the balcony along the railing and had a super tremendous time.
They may be my favorite, I'm not going to say anything definitively, but they play such an excellent show. Really amazing songs, that sound good no matter if you are listening to them at home or at a show. I love them so much.
It was a long and tiring week, but I am thrilled to death that we had this opportunity and took it.
Now get thyself to iTunes and get some of this super hot music I just told you about!