WEQZ Fest was tonight at SPAC, feauturing a slew of bands including TV On the Radio, The Urgency, The Nightwatchman (Tom Morello), Matisyahu, and 311. Awesome show.
The main reason I went, besides low ticket prices, was to see Tom Morello perform--something that seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That man is very intelligent, besides being a ridiculously amazing guitar player for two very influential rock bands of our time (Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave). Now he is pursuing a solo career with a political purpose. He wants to raise political awareness about our current situation, and he's using music to communicate. Check out his single, "The Road I Must Travel."
A big surprise, I found a band that I really appreciate. I did not think I would come out of this festival with a new band in my head, but Matisyahu really stuck with me. They have a different, edgy sound: like Sublime mixed with the Roots. The lead singer looks like an Orthodox Jew (not characteristic of someone who is the lead singer of a band), and he raps, beat-boxes, and sings really well. The guitarist really knows how to play too. They have a fresh sound, different than other bands that try to make it by mimicking other popular bands. Listen to Matisyahu live--they're really, really good.
A thought that I had tonight: you really know how musically talented a band is when you hear them live. Musicians who are brilliant can really jam out and take pre-existing songs to new levels. They can bridge their songs together really well because they have a knack for understanding melodies and music. They can go off on a five minute solo, taking the song to new heights and getting a rise out of the audience. Playing live is pretty gustsy for a band, for real talent is exposed on the spot. Some bands are incredible live performances, perhaps better than recorded on a CD track. Matisyahu really impressed me in this way. They encouraged my thought.
311 put on a good show, but they seemed to be on the latter side of my argument above. It seemed as though they focused on playing their singles; each song was isloated and would end as soon as the song "should" end on its track. Each song was broken up, not coasting from one song to the next. It just seemed very rehearsed and focused on crowd pleasing.
In their defense, are popular bands stuck in that situation, like 311? Don't they have to play certain singles that their fans come to see them for? Even though I think they have to (and they must get sick of playing them over and over again), they could get creative and manipulate their songs. They could change them, mix them up, or add a slight variation. It's not the best situation for artists like that, for if they don't play their singles, their audience will be upset because they came to belt out their favorite hits, but if they do play them, they're play selection is only limited to the same songs they repeatedly play on the tour. Is there a way out?
311 did impress me though; they performed a stunt that I have never seen live. The drummer went on a ridiculous solo as the other members stepped off stage. Then each member returned with his own large drum, snare, and symbol. The whole band jammed out to a drum session, going completely percussion-happy. I thought it was extremely talented and unique. The crowd went absolutely wild, and it provided for an energetic transition into "Flowing." I wouldn't have minded if they just jammed on the drums the whole night. Sometimes just free-flowing music on stage is better than singing along to singles, in my opinion.
I saw some really cool jobs there too, just for a quick additional comment. Which job would you like to have at the venue? You could be a backstage manager, camera crew (video or snapshots), sound/lights guy, tuner, security, vendor, etc. There was one guy there who managed the camera, probably for a local paper or station. He looked so cool, and he had this VIP pass. I was really envious. Now that's a sick job.
That's my concert review for the night. I have other concerts I'm going to this summer that I will most likely post a comment about: Allman Brothers, Incubus, Dave, Velvet Revolver/Alice in Chains, and Hootie/Counting Crows. So stay tuned for some summer concert reviews...