Monday, October 21, 2013

Music Monday: Blue October in October, on the Sway Tour

As a lot of you know, and my husband just learned, I am a huge fan of Blue October (the rock band from Texas, not the synth-pop band of the same name from the U.K.) I have been a die-hard fan since Foiled in 2005, but I've only been lucky enough to see them once. I may have written a blog about the horrible experience of D-Fest on Myspace (yes, it was back in the day). Their show was great, mind you. The crowd? Not so much. I went with my sister, and I'm fairly certain she was traumatized out of her tentative fandom.
Anyway, this post is not about that past trauma, but about current success! This past weekend, I got to go see the band again, on their new Sway tour. They were playing at Juanita's, a popular bar/cafe in Little Rock that hosts small or regional bands. I was kinda surprised they could pull in a band like Blue October, but then, I guess the band hasn't really had a big hit since "Hate Me."
Tickets were more than reasonable, so we made the drive down on Saturday afternoon to see them. The show was supposed to start at 8:30, so we showed up at 7:45 to get a decent spot. We hung around outside for a bit, then went in. We were able to get about 8 or 10 rows back, even though we probably didn't go in until 8. Then we watched Tory Vasquez open, who I had never heard of, but she was pretty rockin. I really enjoyed her show.
It was around 8:30 when she finished, so I thought Blue October would come on next. A bunch of dudes started setting up instruments, and I thought they were the roadies. Then they started doing sound check and I was like, wait a minute...oops. It was another band opening for them, The Unlikely Candidates. They had a few cool songs, too. Then, right as they ended, I turned to talk to my husband. The next thing I knew, something hit me in the mouth! I looked down and I was holding a drum stick. I have no idea how I caught that, as I was paying zero attention and don't know how on earth it didn't just ricochet off my face and fall on the floor. But somehow, my hand instinctually closed around it. So that was kind cool. I've never caught a drum stick or anything before.
After that, a few people did a little maneuvering to get in closer, but we managed to keep our spot. And most people were really cool, with nobody pushing or bumping against us, even though we were so close to the stage. Also, I had worn 4 inch heels, and just as I thought about regretting that, I realized it made all the difference in the world! I always wear tennis shoes to shows, because they're comfortable and I know I'll be standing and dancing a lot. But this time, I could actually see! I was as tall as pretty much everyone in front of me, which never happens. I'm always behind a bunch of 7 feet tall cavemen. So that was a plus, too. The crowd was super chill and really great about not cramming in too close, letting each other out and back in for trips to the bar. It's been a long time since I've seen a concert with a civilized crowd! I'm used to Memphis in May, where it's pretty much a free-for-all.
Anyway, finally Blue October came on and everyone cheered. They started out strong with "Sway," and didn't let up from there. They sounded great. All the songs were tight, and they did a wonderful job of blending old favorites ("Hate Me" and "Into the Ocean") with their new album, as well as a few from Approaching Normal and one from Any Man in America, which they said was a dark album and they'd try to play something that wasn't "about how poor Justin is so sad." You can tell by their new album that they are in a happier place now. Sway goes back to the lighter, melodic sounds of Foiled. And, as always, the lyrics have a way of getting you right in the gut. I danced like mad the whole show, and was pretty much in the land of squee for the entire hour and a half. My husband was a bit taken aback, I think. But he stuck it out, even though he hates crowds and says Blue October's music is too depressing.
After the show, Justin was signing merchandise, so we got in line to get a CD. We were the second from last people, and although they said we couldn't take pics, we did get a signed CD. I asked if I could shake Justin's hand, and he said yes, and stood up and gave me a hug, and then Jon, too. He was very gracious and polite. Afterwards, we went outside and were standing around, and saw Unlikely Candidates mingling. So we stopped and talked to one of the band members, and he signed my drum stick, and then grabbed two of the other guys from the band and they signed it too, and we stood around talking to them for a while before we went back to our hotel.

Overall, it was a fantastic show, like the last one I saw, with the added bonus of a crowd that was more concerned with seeing a great band that we all loved than stomping on anyone in their way. It was a great feeling of community among those of us who came out to see the show at such a small venue. Great job to the band, and the bar. Five star experience all around.

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