Monday, September 24, 2007

Rocky Votolato: Show Review 9/23

I just want to add a little preface to this "review". This has been, for me, a very long weekend. I thought that when I had opened my eyes yesterday morning that I was going to be hit very hard with a headache. Ferris had left the night before, Dennis had left early that morning for hockey. Christina and I felt like death, and thought that maybe a little breakfast would help ease us into the day. I honestly couldn't even tell you the name of the diner we ate at, but it was there we picked up a Real Detroit Weekly to look and see if any local shows were going on that night.

To our surprise there were two shows that stood out. Rocky Votolato was playing in Ann Arbor, and the Ataris were playing in Mount Clemens. I am so glad we went to Rocky V.

I won't go into too much detail about Portugal. The Man because Christina covered them pretty well below. The first band that opened up was called The Great Depression from Cincinnati. They were an acoustic two piece that I felt opened the show up nicely.

A nice little side note: One of the things I love the most about smaller shows is the fact that every band was walking around the venue, drinking at the bar next to everyone else. None of that rockstar bullshit you get at bigger shows.

After The Great Depression, Portugal. The Man went up and rocked our faces off. I had listened to them quite a bit before, and I promised everyone we were with that they would enjoy them. I think they proved me right.

By the time Rocky V came out, it was close to 11:30 I think and everyone migrated into the main room of the Blind Pig. Considering I was phoneless and a little drunk, I don't have an official set list or anything like that, but I can say that over the next hour/hour and a half Rocky V churned through songs off Suicide Medicine, Makers, and The Bragg & Cuss, making it a show that a fan of any of his records could enjoy. The thing about his music that made me worried for the show was that it's the kind of music that most bands playing could easily let the crowd sing along and takeover sometimes. Rocky didn't do that, and I'm glad. Because his voice shines above anybody else standing in that room. The music was tight, the vocals sounded near perfect and he was spot on with the harmonica.

Rocky's voice is raspy, yet cool and calm. The music is so moody, it gives you a reason to be happy on a rainy morning. At one point in his set, a drunken heckler (not this guy though) yelled out "Makerrrrrrrrrrs" to which Rocky laughed and replied with "You must have read my mind, man" and proceeded to play Makers. It's not very often you can find beauty in songs that are so sad and tragic, but he finds a way to make even the worst of situations sound so...pretty.

I was informed over the weekend that Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks was essentially about him being heartbroken and going through a divorce, yet the songs sounded so upbeat and happy even if the lyrics tell a different story. I find the same kind of honest, comfort in Rocky Votolato's music. Very little youtube video's do his music much justice, but enjoy these two:

If you like what you hear, you should also check him out on Myspace here and I strongly recommend the albums Suicide Medicine and Makers.

Some highlights of the show for me happened while his band took a little break. He played Suicide Medicine and I'll Catch You back to back and I didn't even want to sing out loud for fear of ruining how perfect it sounded. When the show was over, they all walked off stage and the crowd did not move. Everyone wanted more and Rocky came back on stage and officially closed the show with "Uppers Aren't Necessary".

It takes a really special show to for me to really be moved these days. The haunting words were being sung out loud with every single bit of emotion they were written with. While they were falling over the crowd, there was one particular line from last night that resonates in my beaten, broken mind. And with that, I'll let Rocky V close this one out...

heaven or heavenless, we're all headed for the same sweet darkness

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