Thursday, August 4, 2011

Candlebox At The Crazy Donkey

After enjoying the ride that has been the 80's revival, Wednesday night provided a throwback to the early 90s as Candlebox came out to play at the Crazy Donkey. It was the opener of a two-plus month U.S. tour for the Seattle grunge band and, as lead singer Kevin Martin pointed out, it was quite the start.

From close to the stage it was hard to say if the Long Island nightclub was near its capacity of 700 rock fans but there was definitely a good showing of Gen Xers. And Candlebox did not disappoint. While the band mixed in some tracks from 2008's Into The Sun and 1998's Happy Pills, they managed to hit all of the favourites from the quadruple-platinum 1993 self-titled album that made them famous. The band is coming up on their 20th anniversary this fall and the years have turned these Seattle kids into wizened professionals. They seamlessly swept past technical problems - out of tune bass, broken guitar string - and kept the crowd with them as they went back and forth from their harder rock selections to their softer stuff.

Candlebox may have played tracks like "Change" and "Far Behind" hundreds of times but they still seemed surprised how enraptured the crowd was and the volume of the sing-alongs. Martin mixed in rock star moments - having the stage-side bar hand him a Jack on the rocks with a splash of lime - with more humanizing Storytellers-type introductions to songs.

While it was exhilarating to hear "You" and "Cover Me", it must be said that one of the most entertaining moments was a six-song medley of cover tunes. After name dropping the greats of the Seattle scene, he guided the band into snippets of some hard rock greats like Zeppelin, Ozzy, Maiden, AC/DC and Kiss. The crowd loved it every bit as much as the band's own classics and hollered along drunkenly. It was a highlight in a delightful night of hard rock that anyone who owned flannel back in the day would enjoy.

The opening bands were a mixed bag. Benny Merchant opened the night with softer date-night rock, inexplicably wearing a knit cap in a warm, albiet mostly-empty club. People flooded through the doors in time to catch the capable, harder Captain to Co-Pilot. Long Island's own Borgo Pass came up next and the hometown crowd enjoyed their quick set of southern-style sludge. The final member of the undercard was Media Hounds (which sounded like Media House when they introduced themselves). Apparently another Long Island band, they were atrocious as they played some mediocre brand of emo or emocore where the lead singer interrupted his clean vocals with arbitrarily screamed arbitrary lyrics. They had technical issues midset as the microphone did everyone a favour and went dead. A replacement was found and they returned to poorly ripping off long ripped off music.

The depth of that low was luckily overcome by the veteran Seattle scenesters who put on one great rock and roll show. Highly recommended.

Editorial note: This blog has been woefully neglected and this hopefully will be a start to more regular posting. Music reviews, concert reviews, concert photography - some new, some old and trapped in the bowels of the internet ... who knows what will end up in this space. Stay tuned!