In honor of one of my show buddies, I am going to take you through the evening and discuss the show based on BGD's 5 criteria for a really good show. If you see a band you like, who can actually sing and play their instruments (i.e. isn't a "studio band"), and the show meets these 5 criteria, you are guaranteed a good show. As illustrated below:
1. The opening bands play short sets.
There were 4 opening bands at the show on Saturday night. A little excessive in my mind, but turns out they were good...so it was worth it. We got there in the middle of the Reuben's Accomplice set. They weren't bad...usual opening band stuff, and the set was short. Then came Steel Train who was AMAZING! I really loved their stuff and even bought a t-shirt and their new album...I also stood in line for the bathroom with the bassist Evan Winiker before I knew he was in the band. He was nice and cute with his big curly hair. He even remembered me when I ran into him later. After Steel Train came Limbeck, who were great, as expected. Finally, there was The Honorary Title, the only flaw on an otherwise great night of music. First of all, they took SO long to set up and do their sound check...which was a fine introduction to their sound guy, hereafter referred to as The Prick. Not only did he kick my friend as he tried to hop over the counter into the sound booth (rather than using the more conveniently located door) but he was also a terrible sound guy, I mean The Prick. The vocals were WAY too loud, to the point where they were piercing, which makes listening difficult, let alone liking. Plus, he was mean to the resident sound guy who was nice and cute, we caught him in a lie, and he smoked (which was not allowed at this venue). Toward the end of their set he found the light board and decided to get crazy. He was also terrible at the lights...so bad that he thought I might do a better job. He asked if I would do the lights...but since I thought he was a prick I didn't want to participate in his little game I said I couldn't reach the light board. So, he decided to try to move it toward me, thereby disconnecting the board from the plug and causing a total black-out on the stage. A+. Anyway, other than The Honorary Title and their Honorary Prick, the rest of the bands met the aforementioned criteria, making one step toward being a really good show.2. There is good music between bands.
The resident sound guy, hereafter referred to as Cutie Pie, did a great job on the in-between set music. 'Nuf said.
3. The headliners have a good light show or something to watch while they are playing.
So, the Hawthorn Theater is relatively ghetto. The stage doesn't really provide for doing a really good light show or having anything crazy going on behind (though it is favored with a great neon green border ala a Tijuana strip joint). We made friends with The Format's sound guy, Muzz, and, though half the light controls didn't even work (perhaps due to The Prick's clumsiness), Muzz did the best he could with what he had. I've never really paid attention to the regular old stage lights in a show, unless it's something special...but since Muzz was my buddy I was much more aware of his craft (sort of like how you pay more attention in church when your friend is speaking).
4. The headliners play songs from their entire catalog, not just their most recent album.
The nice thing about making friends with Muzz, the lights guy, is that he gave me a sneak preview of the set list. He said, "Hey, you want a sneak peak, sister?" And, while I'm not that familiar with the Format's entire catalog (which, from what I can tell, consists of two full-length albums and a couple of EPs and a live album) they did, indeed, play songs from all aforementioned albums. And they rocked 'em hard.
5. The headliners play at least one good cover.
Since I wasn't that familiar with all of the song titles in The Format's catalog, there wasn't really any way that I could tell if a cover was on the list. Toward the end of the show I was thinking that they had missed this criteria, thus not qualifying by BGD's standards. However, I was mistaken and was treated to one of the best covers I've ever seen. They brought out horns and a sax and did one of those everyone-is-on-stage-and-having-a-really-great-time-because-we're-buddies sort of rendition of Van Morrison's Caravan. Complete with the crowd coming in for the laa laa la la, la la laaaa. Fantastic!
Moral of the story (for EvRo): The Format is a great live band who puts on a really good show. BGD's criteria hold steady.