I had to pick myself up off the floor after falling when my sister agreed to go to a concert with me. I can’t remember the last concert she went to. She can probably count them on one hand. So, while the night was routine for me, it was a much bigger deal for her. To clarify, when I say ‘a bigger deal,’ I am not referring to how stoked we were to see the band. We were equally excited about that. I’m referring to the planning that goes into an evening like this. She wondered if we should have bought the tickets ahead of time. She emailed from work with questions like, “Will there be available parking?” and “How early should we get there?” She was baffled by the fact that a band like Thriving Ivory, who has a billboard chart topper single and held roughly a month long slot on VH1’s JumpStart, couldn’t fill a small room with tickets going for $ 13 at the door. Or that we could get there right as the opening band was about to go on, purchase our vouchers, and still have time for a bathroom pit stop before missing anything. I can’t believe it either but I expect it because these are the kind of shows I go to. It’s surreal when a group whose video you saw on television everyday for a month is standing not even a foot from you. They sell their own merchandise and they stay after to mingle with their crowd. They’re not a big deal yet but they’re on their way. You can’t ignore the rising stars on VH1’s “You Oughta Know.”
Without further ado, let me introduce you to the first opening band, Evangeline. As soon as they started playing their first song, “Rain,” from their debut album We’re Alright Down Here, I leaned into Lindsey to say that they sounded straight up Southern/Christian rock. I thought that they sounded a lot like Jars of Clay and Jonathan Barrick as the lead singer sounded especially like Dan Haseltine who leads Jars of Clay. The Jars song “Lesser Things” flashed through my head and the lyrics, ‘Is there grace for a wayward heart?’ It brought me back to my sophomore year at Michigan State University. I used to listen to a lot of Christian rock bands. I go way back to the bootlegs with some Contemporary Christian material, for instance, Switchfoot and Third Day.
Evangeline did a song called “Mississippi Line” and I initially thought it was about someone who’s ready to die. Someone who has lived a good long life and it’s time. However, I think the song might actually be about starting over. Either way, it was a pretty song. The last song was called “Arizona” and Barrick introduced it as ‘a song about letting it go. Like rolling down your windows and letting the air blow through your hair.’ Come to find that he had made small talk out of his own lyrics because those are, in fact, the words to the song. Below please find their video for “We’re Alright Down Here.” It was shot in Houston, Texas on Main Street downtown. Those from Houston will recognize McElroy’s Irish Pub, the Greyhound station, and the bus heading to Fannin St.
2. Wait For Morning
3. Mississippi Line
5. All I Am
Next up were the Warehouse regulars, the 71’s. This four piece local rock band took the stage with a number called “Stretch Out Your Life.” My initial, cynical, judgmental impression was that the lead musician was full of himself. By the time they were half way through their second song I had already completely changed my mind, thus the reason for criticizing my own impulsive notion. The quick double handed finger brush through his hair may have caused my preliminary reaction but I’m not giving myself any excuses. The fact is Keeton was a nice guy. Who cares what I have to say about it anyway.
They did a cover of “Interstate Love Song” by Stone Temple Pilots and I noticed that he had a nice voice so I started to pay closer attention. Carefully listening to make out the words to their original songs I began to wonder if they were a Christian band as well. After all, if I have it right, a few lyrics to the song “Blue Room” are as follows: his light is waiting to bring life to your heart/ destiny waits for you/ you gotta choose to fly or wait in this blue room to die. The song that I decided was my favorite came toward the end of their set and was called “Awakening.” In addition to the track title alone, again this song contained several spiritual connotations: in your love I have found the makings of a happy end/ your love is my life/ your bread your wine/ I cannot live without it.
Lindsey and I spoke with Keeton after the show because I am the annoying fan who wants a piece of merchandise after the display has been securely packed away. He confirmed that he had been part of a Christian band prior to the birth of The 71’s.
Throughout this site you will occasionally find me interrupting my musical commentary to make remarks on a band’s attire, or that of an individual member within the band. This happens to be one of those occasions because the lead guitarist, who they referred to as Cecil, was wearing an appealing combination. He had on a black button up, sleeves rolled to the elbow, layered with a grey vest and a bright red tie tucked into the vest. Lindsey noticed as well and stated her approval accordingly. Let me quickly recognize the other two members of the group before moving on. Jacob was the bass player and “Tank” was the drummer. The two are brothers and the group calls them the ‘Sons of Trouble.’
1. Stretch Out Your Life
3. Interstate Love Song (STP cover)
4. Blue Room
5. Tomorrow Belongs to You
I was trying to predict what song Thriving Ivory was going to start with. I went over different possibilities in my head and talked them through with Lindsey. Maybe they would start with their second single, “Hey Lady” so that they could save the VH1 hit for the encore. Maybe they would play a cover for the encore and include both publically exposed songs within the set. I was totally wrong. They started with “For Heaven’s Sake” which is the ninth track to their self-titled album. It’s a beautiful song about not allowing yourself to breakdown when things aren’t looking up for you. To avoid dwelling on what isn’t fair and to let it go so that you can move on.
Clayton Stroope has a very distinctive voice. I might describe it as a pinched, high-ranged, Geddy Lee-ish whine but without the earsplitting shrieks. It’s wonderful. For some it may take getting used to. And while you’re deciding weather to like his voice or not, listen to the amazing lyrics. Next they sang “Twilight.” “Twilight” was my first favorite. In other words, when I started listening to the album this was the first song that I fell in love with. Since then I have had other favorites and have pretty much fallen in love with the whole album. I can’t stop playing it. Today I took the CD from my car into my office to listen at work.
Scott Jason is remarkable on the keyboards and the intro to “Hey Lady” found me concentrated on his rapid but graceful presentation. With the conclusion of “Hey Lady” Clayton encouraged everyone to go out for ‘high fives and hugs’ seeing as he didn’t have anything to do after the show. Following this invitation they played a song that is not featured on their album called “Father’s For A Ghost.” They followed that up with the final track to their debut entitled “Day of Rain.” Drew stepped out to showcase some of his guitar playing and Clayton dialed back to give him the floor.
I guess I’ll insert my little wardrobe observation here. Drew was dressed very European. He had on layered shirts and a scarf and kind of reminded me of the way the UK band the Kooks would dress. Scott and Bret, the base player, stood next to each other both wearing beanies.
The beanie brothers and their other half rocked out a short rendition of “Let It Be” and I gasped as I turned to wait for Lindsey’s response. They, of course, ended with “Angels On The Moon” of which my favorite line says, ‘do you know, that everyday is the first of the rest of your life.’ I was sure they would do an encore and it looked like they were deliberating until Pink Floyd’s “Us And Them” played them off the stage. Weird. I guess the house crew wanted to split, after all it was a Monday night. I would have liked to hear the ballad, “Overrated,” but luckily I realized that shouting ‘overrated’ would yield a wrong impression.
1. For Heaven’s Sake
3. Secret Life
5. Long Hallway With A Broken Light
6. Hey Lady
7. Light Up Mississippi
8. Father’s For A Ghost
9. Day Of Rain
10. Let It Be (Beatles cover)
11. Angel’s On The Moon
Here is a live version of “For Heaven’s Sake.”
If Clayton looks familiar to you it may be because you have seen him as the subject of Lee Ann Womack’s “Last Call” video.