Thursday, June 07, 2007

Wednesday Night Recap: Glen Phillips, Watkins Family, Grant Lee Phillips, Luke Bella

This has been a very mellow week of music for me, which is ok, because come Sunday, I'll be at DeVore stadium ready to rock for the 94/9 Miller Lite Independence Jam. But this week has been a lot of singer songwriters and Big Sonic Chill type stuff...Rachael Yamagata, AM Vibe, Young Galaxy, Son Volt, and now add to that list Glen Phillips, Sara & Sean Watkins, Grant Lee Phillips, and Luke Bella.

Sometimes getting the motivation to drive to the Belly Up is tough for me. I hate driving and anything more than 8 miles is beyond my usual radius from home. But last night I really wanted to see this show (Thanks, Meryl!) so I headed up a little later than I planned and caught the show.

I arrived around 9:15, having missed Luke Bella and catching Grant Lee Phillips as he started his set. I walked in on "Truly, truly, truly" but unfortunately was unfamiliar with the remainder of his set (guess I didn't realize he has 5 solo albums), though his voice takes me right back to junior college when I dated that one guy...don't remember the guy much, but I do remember the soundtrack of our brief dating stint was Mighty Joe Moon.

The show was unlike any I've ever been to at the Belly Up. In front of the stage, the venue had about 12 small tables where people were seated. I decided to put my camera away and not take any shots because if I've ever been a jerk by taking pictures before, going in front of this seated, hushed crowd would've taken the cake. Instead, I hung back and just listened to the music.

The format of the show was cool, with all the artists coming on stage, then just a couple, then just one, and so forth throughout the evening. No stage changes, just a bunch of mics, some guitars, a couple violins, and a keyboardist.

With a format like this, there is a requirement for good stage banter, as there's constant tuning, discussion of what to play next, etc. Glen Phillips played almost exclusively solo stuff. A night of memories for me, his voice takes me right back to the summer roadtrip I took with my 3 best friends up the California coastline listening almost exclusively to Dulcinea. It would have been nice to hear a song from that album, though the only song I recognized as a Toad song was the soccer mom favorite, "All I Want", which he played with all the other performers of the evening.

Sara and Sean Watkins didn't really get much of their own set, instead just transitioned from Glen's set into theirs, but playing mostly covers. The music was good, and Luke's accompanying violin with Sara's sounded beautiful, especially in the Belly Up, but my main disappointment was that all of them have extensive catalogs; they could've gone without any covers and just backed each other up for more of their own material from past bands and solo albums. It felt like a bunch of friends jamming out, which is fine, but it felt like nobody wanted to insult the others by making the final encore songs their own, so instead they played Dylan. The show felt really short even when accounting for the fact that I got there late. I arrived at 9:20 and was back home watching the Daily Show by 11:09. It was a good show, but nothing blew me away. I appreciate that they took this tour on the road and am happy to have seen it.

Tonight will continue for me on the mellow...first Swim Party and Kite Flying Society at TNT and then Thao Nguyen at the House of Blues. Hopefully I can get some pics of those for ya. Or maybe I'll just see you all there...(assuming the museum has worked out that whole ridiculous line situation to get into TNT.)

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