Monday, August 22, 2005

John Butler Trio - Opening bands that out rock the headliners...

Simply put, the John Butler Trio put Assembly Of Dust to shame, even when AOD got a little help on bass from Mike Gordon (of Phish fame). So here goes: the good, the bad, and the unfortunate.

The Good:
I walked in with my friends minutes after John Butler started. I think I heard the first note as we walked through the large wooden double doors at Higher Ground, but for all I know we missed the first song. However, according to the VERY accurate concert schedule we missed one song at the most. So we walked in, having no idea what to expect from this band that we had all only heard one song by on the radio in the last few weeks. The quad I was there with shuffled our way into the middle of the crowd and chatted it up as would be expected for an opening band. But as we stood there, a pattern of silence started. People would trail off in mid-sentence and stare at the stage. Within two songs, we realized this was no 'opening' band. This was THE band we were there to see. If he's not selling out arenas in the near future, there is no justice in the music industry. He has all the potential to be the next Dave Matthews; his songs are radio friendly, but in concert there is SO much more there.
If one were forced to describe John Butler's music in one word, it would have to be 'roots'. He brings in all of the old, the reggae, the blues, the rock, and the tribal, and brings it together like it was never meant to be apart. As unfair as it is to try to quantify a musician into an amalgamation of other artists, I'd say John Butler is one part Rusted Root, one part Live, and two parts Ben Harper. And he does it all with a backing of two. And he's picked up QUITE the duo to come along.

The Bad:
Apparently the guy we totally bagged out on seeing was pretty good. But I doubt it. Look at Kyle Riabko's website, and watch his music videos. Did they clone Hanson, but only one was successful?

The Unfortunate:
Nate Wilson, what's up? Why are you wasting your time with Reid? I'll desist from ranting about Reid's shortcomings, but my real disappointment with AOD was Nate. Personally, I had never before seen Nate have a bad show. He was the center of Percy Hill, the guys understood it and played accordingly, and he seemed to feed on it. He smiled a lot, and was the one that brought me back to see Percy Hill time after time.
Percy Hill was/is a band. AOD are not a band, they are a group of musicians. Maybe someday they will be something more. Today, they have no cohesion. Maybe this is a result of not doing full blown tours together, maybe it is something else. Until they form together, they are what Strangefolk was the last time I saw them two years ago, bits and pieces of greatness without the glue to hold the pieces together. I will keep hope up for them, as individually they all have the potential for greatness, but together they do not equal the sum of their parts.
Mike Gordon made it apparent that the bass is the weakest piece of AOD, but he also seemed to walk into the haze of 'who goes now' and 'what do I do next' that seem to constantly arise in AOD even when they're playing with no guests.

John Butler Trio - Funky Tonight (Live 2004-08-13)

John Butler Trio - Far Away (Live February 2003 on Channel V)

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