Langerado was not in the cards for me this year so I took solace in the fact I could see Vampire Weekend and the new Blind Melon in intimate venues.¬† As reported here, VW cancels to play to a captive audience of millions‚Ä¶jerks, but the better band was to crush the tiny Back Booth in downtown Orlando.
I had reservations, as anyone would, which concerned Shannon Hoon‚Äôs replacement. Shannon Hoon‚Äôs presence is unmistakable and a key part to Melon‚Äôs sound, but the band is far too good to be held back without him. They have an incredible rhythm section. Glenn Graham and Brad Smith are amazing ‚Äì tight jazzy and funky ‚Äì and lay the backbone for some of the most innovative guitar work of the 90‚Äôs. Rogers Stevens and Christopher Thorn, weave their 70‚Äôs Saturday morning cartoon fuzz-sound in and out of each other creating truly impressive melodies as good as Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood ever did (Yes, I said that). Independently the guitars are creative, intricate works of swirling chord progressions, but together they make Blind Melon.
I remember standing outside The Edge in Orlando when Blind Melon opened for Lenny Kravitz because I couldn‚Äôt get tickets. Then cursing myself for missing the show I pledged to drive to Cocoa when they were playing a fair or festival 2 years later in 95. Shannon died in New Orleans 2 weeks before they returned.
Now, 13 years later, I would see one of my favorite bands. The show started early and I missed the first song or two. I entered during ‚ÄúGalaxie‚Äù and was instantly struck with chills as the vocals poured around the corner before I could see the stage from the double doorways by the bar, ‚ÄúAnd your givin‚Äô me, a hated identity-y.‚Äù Eerie and magical it seemed like the ghost of a band long gone reaching across planes of being and throttling my collar.
The music was impeccable as they tore through classics like ‚ÄúPaper Scratcher,‚Äù ‚ÄúDrive,‚Äù and ‚ÄúThe Pusher.‚Äù What was more impressive is Travis Warren‚Äôs voice, powerful, sad, and gravelly. Like seeing the Tennessee 3, Blind Melon presented the same paradox of closing your eyes during a song and daring you to think it could possibly be anything but the original. What is great is that it is not a carbon copy or weak imitation but a perfect fit. Where Shannon almost sounds fragile or vulnerable (that being part of the charm), Travis possessed the same sound with much more ferocity and power. There were rock moments of fierce howling and guttural screaming that shook the walls of the small bar. The crowd seemed to share my opinion with constant remarks around me like, ‚Äúholy shit‚Äù and ‚Äúwow!‚Äù The new material was impressive too as they peppered them in between older tunes. The audience sang nearly every word with the force of a much larger crowd. Warren summed it up best saying, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not here to replace Shannon, nobody can. I am here to keep this great band going.‚Äù
Article originally appeared in REAX # 23, April 8 2008
“Paper Scratcher” at the BackBooth
“Soak the Sin” Live
God damn that bible pushin’ man!