Counting Crows live!(or)which band did I come here for?

June 2, 2012 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Pump up the Volume - Counting Crows live!(or)which band did I come here for? by Paul Chapman

So I have been an avid fan of Counting Crows since I first heard the majestic spaces of “August and Everything After" in my formative middle school years. In the pantheon of important records in one's life it can be difficult to narrow down THE most important. I mean there are just so many factors to consider: sheer amount of time spent, cultural education, emotional name a few. All of these wonderful elements play a role in labeling a record a “personal favorite.” There are so many fantastic--some unarguably far superiorly fantastic—record and “August and Everything After” is not my all time favorite. It's likely not even in my top five. It's not even a record I buy for people or suggest they buy for themselves.

So why am I an avid fan? This record was my paradigm shift. It uncovered my love of lyrical poetry, and drove me toward the recognition of how small my world was AND just how expansive the greater world can be--and yet, still feel so familiar. It opened my eyes to the realness of raw emotion and the melancholy nature of navigating this life. It made me want to play guitar, play often, and gave me a roadmap to achieve the latter. In many ways "August and Everything After" was the start of who I was to become and who I am still becoming.

How the Counting Crows travel while on tour.

It's important that in all my romanticism you realize that, while my love of this band may be nostalgic, it is not rooted in nostalgia. This is, for my money and my time, easily, one of the best bands of the last few decades. Definitely one of the best of the 90's. That said "Hard Candy" and [just about] everything after has been hard for me to digest. There is a scene in "High Fidelity" where Barry asks Rob " it in fact unfair to criticize a formerly great artist for his latter day sins, is it better to burn out or fade away?" answer is thus: I'll take the latter when the former is THAT valuable.

So we arrive at the strikingly gorgeous Florida Theatre [a first for me] on a beautiful May evening. I am a bundle of excitement and reticence as I'm hoping for a good bit of classic Crows back catalog but unsure of just what may be on the bill [yes Arash. It is ABSOLUTELY wrong of you to want to hear "Accidentally in Love"!!!]. The set kicked off with an epically lush 10+ minute treatment of "'Round Here" that put on perfect display all those wonderful attributes that were described earlier. A few songs later I was treated to the first real surprise of the night--a pitch perfect rendition of "Time and Time Again" followed by the earnest "I Wish I Was a Girl" which led into my favorite moment of the night the achingly beautiful, "Colorblind". They pulled off fantastic covers of "Start Again" (Teenage Fanclub) and "Like Teenage Gravity" (Kasey Anderson). The apex of the night includes favorites "Mr. Jones", "Long December", an impressively energized version of "Rain King", and one of my all time favorites "Omaha" opened the encore set [full set list can be found at the bottom of the article].

On any other night this set likely would have been, hands down, the highlight, however, this night was unique in that an unknown band stole the show. That band was Mean Creek.It's EXTREMELY rare for an unknown opener to have the impact that this four-piece outfit from Boston had on me, but I will not soon forget their set. Their sound is that warm center connecting late 80's post-punk with early 90's alt-pop; the grungy aggro-pop of The Replacements, early Gin Blossoms, and The Lemonheads. Lead vocalist Chris Keene weaves in and out of early goth-punk Robert Smith warble to the earnest class of The Arcade Fire's Win Butler. Lead guitarist and auxiliary vocalist Aurore Ounjian channels Juliana Hatfield in her prime and delivers licks that range from jarring Pixies-esque to the haunting tones is early Interpol all with the emotive pop sensibility of The Cranberries or a Mark Mulcahy project. And her vocals range from perfectly sweet harmonies to a Black Francis wail. Add to that an impressive rhythm section in bassist Erik Wormwood and drummer Mikey Holland and you have all the elements of, not only, an incendiary performance, but, also, the kind of band that NEEDS to exist. This is a band, that if they continue to follow the trajectory they are currently on, that I hope for success--almost selfishly--because I want to hear their music for years to come. I think you will too. Look for them online. Buy some. Listen. Share. Both you and they will be glad you did.

This is Mean Creak

Counting Crows 5/1/12 setlist

Round Here 10+ minute version
Untitled (love song)
High Life
St. Robinson in His Cadillac dream
Time and Time
I Wish I Was a Girl
Start Again
Recovering The Satellites
Hard Candy
Hanging Tree
Good Time
Mr. Jones
Like Teenage Gravity
The Return of the Grievous
Long December
Rain King


We Will Come Around
Holiday in Spain

Were you there? Tell us what you thought of the show, we love your comments!