Blues Traveler and Royal Fingerbowl played to a packed house
at Bradley's Robertson Memorial Field House Nov. 6.
The set was marked by exciting performances and extended jams by Traveler:
John Popper (vocals, harmonica), Chan Kinchla (guitar), Bob Sheehan (bass)
and Brendan Hill (drums).
Blues Traveler played an excellent set. Say what you will about the length
and frequency of their extended jams, but it cannot be denied that there
were some points in the show, such as "Crash Burn" and "Brother John,"
during which the band was just smoking. I personally went in almost
completely ignorant of Blues Traveler's music and came out wanting much
more, which is certainly an indicator of a great live show.
In particular, bassist Sheehan and drummer Hill, who combine into one of
the best rhythm sections in the game, played an excellent set. If you
became bored by Popper or Kinchla's constant soloing, you always could
listen to Sheehan's hypnotic walking bass lines or Hill's tight, jazzy
Also, the band peppered their set with some recognizable covers such as
"Low Rider" (originally by War), "Gloria" (originally by Them featuring
Van Morrison) and "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" (originally by the
Charlie Daniels Band). The crowd went crazy for these, especially "Devil,"
which closed the band's normal set.
Royal Fingerbowl. The New Orleans band was far too loud and played far too
long. They were armed to the teeth with melody-free songs about such
once-cutting-edge-but-now-passť topics as masturbation, postal insanity
and kidnapped girlfriends. If their set wasn't so long and obtrusive, it
would be perfect "music to take your seat by," but as it was, I still
haven't seen a good opening act in my now fairly extensive concert-going
experience. Personally, I was waiting for Gwar to come out and kill them.
For those who enjoyed their set (I'm sure there were some of you), their
debut is called Happy Birthday, Sabo and was released last year. It
features the songs they played live.
The beginning of Blues Traveler's set was marred by technical problems.
During the opener, "Carolina Blues," Popper's harmonica went from
inaudible to vaguely audible to so loud it was conflicting with Kinchla's
overdriven guitar, which is not something that should be happening.
Granted, the fieldhouse probably is not the best place to stage a concert,
but as long as the crew took changing the set, these things shouldn't have
been a problem.
Blues Traveler's interaction with the crowd left quite a bit to be
desired. Popper merely stood there in his own little harmonica-filled
world most of the show, and Sheehan was just as out there. Only Kinchla,
who was constantly bopping around the stage and attempting eye contact
with audience members, attempted to break the mold and bond with the
crowd, but since most of the people in attendance were looking at Popper
(the band's resident celebrity), they were left feeling that the band
would rather be somewhere else.
Obviously, by the end of the set, the band would rather have been
The primary reason for this was the extremely poor crowd Bradley produced
for this occasion.
I understand a college crowd is going to be a little bit more difficult to
entertain than a crowd full of fans of the band (which is why I would
never do a college tour in a million years - kudos to Blues Traveler). To
most of the students who paid $3 for their tickets, going to this concert
was just "something to do," and their behavior reflected that.
For example, being asked once by the volunteer staff of ushers to put out
a cigarette/joint/whatever that was being smoked is to be expected. There
is no smoking in the fieldhouse (which probably had more than its fair
share of fire hazards that night anyway), something that was made quite
clear with a quick trip through the lobby. If not, one encounter with the
staff should be enough.
Instead, several people found it amusing to keep lighting up, antagonizing
a staff of peers that had better things to do than tell the same couple of
idiots to put out their cigarettes countless times.
This is not only disrespectful to the staff, it is disrespectful to the
Also along the same lines, the crowd's complete lack of interest in the
music with which they were unfamiliar was disheartening. Four songs in
there were people shouting for "Hook," and five songs in, everyone who was
more than 15 rows back was in their seats.
I understand that not everybody has the entire Blues Traveler catalog
committed to memory, but I was honestly under the impression that if the
band were to open with "Run-Around" and close with "Hook" as the next
song, most of the crowd would have left happy.
But I still haven't heard anyone say they didn't get their $3 worth, and I
suppose that is enough.
I seriously doubt that Blues Traveler will have very kind things to say
about Peoria, though.