TBT: Michael Franti & Spearhead @ The Village, 2010

I wrote this review in October 2010. Franti & Spearhead just released a new album this week, so I thought this is appropriate for Throwback Thursday this week.

Michael Franti & Spearhead @ The Village

With fresh new material, a lot of energy, and a growing fan base, Michael Franti & Spearhead are making the most of the moment. On Friday, Oct. 1, Franti & Spearhead had their first show in Little Rock, AR at The Village.

Franti & Spearhead really know how to put on a show. The venue wasn’t completely full, but it felt like it after the show started out with “Love Don’t Wait,” from the band’s latest studio production, The Sound of Sunshine.

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TBT: John Mayer @ BOK Center, Tulsa, 2010

I’m about to share some new John Mayer music, so I thought I’d share this for Throwback Thursday before I get judged! Ha! Read it, will you?

John Mayer @ BOK Center

I love John Clayton Mayer.

I’ve liked his music ever since I first heard him on the radio, but I didn’t fall in love with him as a musician until I had the chance to see him live on Feb. 1, 2007. In fact, before that show in 2007, I had no idea he was such great guitarist. That show elevated him to a completely new level for me. It was not just about cute lyrics and beautiful break-up songs anymore. It was about his passion for music and his glorious guitar riffs (oh yes, I said glorious.)

I knew he was playing in Tulsa on Sept. 3, but I wasn’t planning to attend the show. At least I wasn’t, until I saw the live broadcast of his Sept. 1 show at Colorado’s Red Rocks. That’s when I remembered how great he is and realized how much I’d regret it if I missed out on the Tulsa show. After all, it was just a two-hour drive and a ticket that wasn’t in my budget. But I had to do it. So I bought my ticket the day before the show and got on the road after leaving work on Friday.
John Mayer @ BOK Center
Lucky for me, the BOK Center performance wasn’t sold out. The opening act was Owl City. Which was not impressive at all, but everyone did stand up for their hit “Fireflies.” I was fine with sitting down for their entire set. After all, I wasn’t there to see them. When the schedule of shows for Mayer’s Summer tour came out, I thought it listed Train as the supporting act. I would have been a lot happier with Train. Or with Michael Franti & Spearhead, the supporting act for the winter part of Mayer’s Battle Studies tour.
John Mayer @ BOK Center
Mayer’s set started out with “Vultures,” from his Continuum album. Which he introduced with riffs from The Band‘s “Chest Fever.” He followed it with the Mayer classics “Clarity” and “No Such Thing.” The entire arena was singing along with these songs, including me. The next song is when I started to fly, because he played “Ain’t No Sunshine” with a reggae-flavored intro and a guitar solo that made me melt. Need I say more?

Later in the show he played The Rolling Stone‘s “Beast of Burden” along with “Perfectly Lonely,” from his latest album, Battle Studies. After that winner combination and an instrumental jam session, which rightfully earned drummer Keith Carlock a prolonged ovation, the show went into a mini-acoustic set. With Bob Dylan‘s “Don’t Think it Twice, It’s Alright” and “Your Body Is A Wonderland,” Mayer kept everyone in the audience happy.
John Mayer @ BOK Center
The 7-piece band accompanying Mayer is an impressive one. In addition to Carlock, the band is made up by David Ryan Harris (guitar), Robbie McIntosh (guitar), Sean Hurley (bass), Bob Reynolds (saxophone, flute), Bryan Lipps (trumpet), and Charlie Wilson (keyboards). Each of them had a moment to shine during the show. Like Wilson during “Who Says.” Despite listening to that song (it was the first single of Battle Studies) so many times before, this was the first time I noticed the delicate piano notes in its middle. Those notes really glue the song together. And now when I listen to that song I wait for them — so much soul in just a couple of notes.

Mayer ended with “Edge of Desire” as encore while a video compilation from the winter part of the tour played on the screen behind him. It was perfect. I got out of the BOK Center with the biggest smile, wishing I wasn’t alone, but still so high from the amazing musical evening I had just experienced. I was blown away, as I’m sure you would be, if you get to one of his shows.

The set was a great mixed of old and new favorites. Here’s the setlist of the night. Just in case you want to make a play list, like I did.
Chest Fever/Vultures, Clarity, No Such Thing, Ain’t No Sunshine, Slow Dancing in a Burning Room, Beast of Burden/Perfectly Lonely, Waiting on the World to Change, Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right, Your Body Is A Wonderland, Gravity, Can’t Find My Way Home/Who Says, Why Georgia, Heartbreak Warfare, Do You Know Me, Half of My Heart/Don’t Stop Believing, Encore: Edge of Desire
John Mayer @ BOK Center
And here are a few of my favorite photos of the night (they’re all from that perfect encore) in black/white.

TBT: The Giving Tree Band @ George’s, 2012

Last week for Throw Back Thursday, I posted the review for the first Giving Tree Band show I attended. This week, I wanted to share the second time I caught them live. Enjoy:

The Giving Tree Band @ George's Majestic
This is a late post, but I promise you it’s worth the wait. At the end of April, one of my favorite Bluegrass/Americana band made a stop in Fayetteville, AR at George’s Majestic Lounge. It had been close to two years since I first experienced The Giving Tree Band live. It had been way too long.
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TBT: The Giving Tree Band @ George’s, 2010

This is the first show I saw of the Giving Tree Band, after a long weekend at my first Wakarusa Festival. Enjoy:

The Giving Tree Band @ George's
Words by B “Cafe con Leche” Gutierrez. Photos by Nicole Riley.

After coming back from Wakarusa I thought I’d be OK to go without live music for a while, but after I got an update from @georgesmajestic about a no-cover Wakarusa Post-Party featuring The Giving Tree Band, I was all over it! So I called a couple of friends and headed over to George’s Majestic Lounge. I left my camera at home after being glued to it for four days straight at the festival, and keeping in mind with the 1500+ photos I had to look through and edit. So I decided to take it easy and just go for the music.

You see, that night I thought I was doing my soul a favor by not taking my camera. But I was so wrong. About two songs into their set, I knew I liked The Giving Tree Band. Two songs later, I realized I had to write a review. It all came together when I saw someone taking photos of the show, after talking to her, Nicole agreed to showcase her photos on BOT. So this is my shout-out to Nicole Riley!

The Giving Tree Band @ George's
The Giving Tree Band was one of Waka Winter Classic winner bands. They got their spot (two sets) at Wakarusa at the WWC at Kinetic Playground in Chicago. I didn’t catch them at the festival, but I heard of them and their great music. I also heard it was a big band. They all fit on the lounge stage at George’s, but barely. There are currently eight band members: Todd Fink (Banjo), Eric Fink (Guitar), Andy Goss (Guitar), Phil Roach (Violin), Erik Norman (Mandolin), Scott Woods (Slide), Justin Forsythe (Drums), and Patrick Burke (Upright Bass). All of them sing, at least that’s what I remember. There were a couple of songs where all their voices would come together to form beatlesque harmonies, and I’m thinking of “Peace on the Mountain” and “Circles” when I say this.
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TBT: Imagine Dragons @ Club Madrid, September 2011

Happy birthday, America! For today’s edition of Throwback Thursday I bring you a couple of Imagine Dragons post I published in the last couple of years. I’m still high on awesomeness from the ID show I attended last week (and still owe you that write up) so I thought these posts were appropriate for today. This post was originally posted in September 2011 after a show in Las Vegas. Look, Dan with no mohawk-mullet! Enjoy:

Imagine Dragons @ Club Madrid
All photos by B “Café con Leche” Gutierrez

On Friday, Sept. 16, Imagine Dragons played a show at Club Madrid at Sunset Station in Las Vegas. The show was part of the afterparty for the 107.9FM listeners appreciation show that featured Lit. The Dragons were at home in Vegas, and looking around the crowd, it was clear that Club Madrid was full of fans and friends and not tourists. Everybody knew the songs and sang along, clapped at the right times, jumped and danced through the whole show.

Imagine Dragons @ Club Madrid
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TBT: ALO at Wakarusa 2010

ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra) @ Wakarusa 2010

Music is good for the soul. And the ALO set at Wakarusa was just what my soul needed. There was a big crowd at the Revival Tent waiting for them, so when Dave Brogan’s drums started “Man of The World” (the title track of their new album) it gave cue for what would be a big sing-along. The set was a great mix of old favorites and new material. Songs like “Walls of Jericho,” “Wasting Time,” and “Try” are some of the must-know ALO songs; the smiles all over the audience made that evident to those seeing ALO for the first time.  Continue reading

Last Summer on Earth 2013

If I could follow one band around the world as they tour, the Barenaked Ladies would be that band. As mentioned in a previous post, I am unabashedly a huge fan. I may also be one of the few fans who think that the band has gotten better since co-founder and lead singer Steven Page left the band. I believe that in his absence, the remaining members of the band have all had their time to shine and contribute to the creative direction of the band. It is true that their shows now have a different flavor as they lack the antics and crazy energy of Page, but you can tell by watching that these four men are on stage as brothers having the time of their life.

This show was no exception. BNL headlined their first Last Summer on Earth tour last year and were joined on stage by Cracker, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, and Blues Traveler. This year Guster, the newly reunited Ben Folds Five and comedian Boothby Graffoe were support for the tour. This year, they did not have Las Vegas on their tour, so I ventured to Los Angeles for the June 23rd show at the Greek Theater. I was excited to see them in an amphitheater again as I believe BNL is best enjoyed outside. The Greek Theater did not disappoint with its amazing views, easy access, and incredible view of the stage at every seat. Due to the traffic coming up the mountain and a very large Italian dinner at Palermo in Hollywood, I was unable to see the opening comedian or Guster. I’ve heard Guster puts on a great show, and was bummed to have missed them. I arrived inside the theater just before Ben Folds Five was to start their set. I will be honest; I’ve never been a huge fan of the Ben Folds Five, or Ben Folds as a solo artist. I appreciate their talent as musicians, but just never got behind the band. That changed with their 45 minute set on Sunday. They played a few new songs mixed with their hits. Ben Folds is incredibly energetic and likes to interact with the crowd. He even took pictures of the crowd and his band while they were playing. My favorite BF5 song, “Brick,” was performed, and I was able to get short snippet of the song on my phone.

The LSOE show is one of the few shows I’ve seen that has run exactly according to schedule. The Barenaked Ladies took the stage approximately 5 minutes later than their scheduled time (I’ve never heard of this). They took the stage and performed one of the songs off of their new album called “Limits.” This was followed by their first single off of Grinning Streak called “Boomerang.” While not yet crowd favorites, I was excited to see Boomerang performed live, as I’ve become very partial to this song since the new album was released. The rest of their set was peppered with new songs like “Odds” Are (if you like BNL from the early 2000’s this is the song for you) and old standards like “The Old Apartment” and “Brian Wilson.” I was bummed because my favorite song, “For You,” was not performed. This is the first time in the last 5 shows I’ve seen when it was not on the set list. A nice treat halfway through the set was a performance of “Be My Yoko Ono” with comedian Boothby Graffoe taking over lead vocals. I love this song immensely and was so happy to see it live. You can see a clip of the song below.

Overall, this was not my favorite BNL show. Their set was much shorter than LSOE 2012 and seemed a bit rushed. I was excited to see the band again, and each time I see them I am more drawn to their music and their personalities. I am excited to see where the band goes after this album, which I feel is their best in a while. If you are a tried and true BNL fan, you will love them on LSOE 2013. If you are on the fence about them, this could be your chance to see them at their most mature and with great support from some fun acts.

Make sure to check out a show if they are in your area at www.LastSummerOnEarth.com