(UPDATE: Added videos found online from the concert to end of entry)
I went back and forth on whether to make this a review or not, but I’ve decided to keep it a personal entry. I’ve been a fan of Brandi Carlile’s for a little while, now, though if you’re not already familiar with who she is, you may recognize her biggest hit, “The Story.” What really won me over in the beginning was seeing clips on YouTube of her live performances. Whatever you may expect of her from that nice picture above, it’s not the fact that she’s just another cute girl with a guitar that enticed me… it was this:
That’s right. She sings Johnny Cash… and rocks the living heck out of it. I like a number of folks’ music, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m eager to see them play live. Brandi Carlile & Company, though, put on quite a show from everything I’d seen online (and you can’t imagine just how many online clips I’ve watched), so that’s why, when I heard about her new tour, I was extremely excited to see that she’d be visiting The House of Blues at Downtown Disney in Anaheim. I couldn’t buy a ticket fast enough :).
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks listening to nothing but Brandi Carlile’s latest album, and yesterday at 6pm I finally headed out for my date with her. I was a little tired, and my mind was elsewhere, so I mistakenly got onto the 405 freeway instead of the 5. I didn’t even snap out of it to realize my mistake until just as I was passing the 55, so I ended up crossing over on Fairview. So much for getting there early, as the doors opened at 7. I eventually made it to Downtown Disney, and having never been to the House of Blues before, I got into a line that was already formed. After a few moments, though, I started putting things together. After asking the beautiful gal behind me if she’d been there before (she hadn’t), I realized that I was waiting in line for the restaurant. First the freeway and now this?
After again waiting in ANOTHER wrong spot, I was finally directed where to go. In all seriousness, I’m no dope, but there aren’t signs anywhere… it’s a little tough to just figure out where one is supposed to go. It didn’t matter, though. I was finally there. After getting a wristband (they serve alcohol at a bar) and handing over my ticket, I walked into a very loud and very crowded hall. I made my way to the opposite side, and planted myself against a railing to wait for the show to start. The center pit is standing room only, so we were packed in there pretty well. There was an interesting mix of people in the audience. Certainly, there were quite a few female couples (Ms. Carlile enjoys the ladies, herself, if you know what I mean), but there were parties of women, a few kids with their parents, guys with their girlfriends, and of course… Mark Mushakian :).
The opening act, Gill Landry, hit the stage at 8pm, and I really enjoyed him and his band. I felt bad for the group, because most of the audience was still talking/drinking, and I would really enjoy seeing them play in a different venue. This just wasn’t the right place for his low-key, slow-groove songs. Also, though she didn’t sing (or even talk), he was accompanied by a lovely gal on the viola named Annie Ford. This is one of the very, very few times in which a cute blonde playing a viola WOULDN’T be the highlight of my day, but Brandi Carlile certainly did the trick. I love the blues, I love folk music, and I thought this little band of players was a perfect lead-in for Brandi Carlile’s type of music, I think I was just in the minority.
When their set finished, Gill and band left the stage, and then… nothing. Well, not nothing, exactly, but it was awhile until Brandi came on stage. I understand that they have to clear the stage, check levels, and do other things – it just seemed a bit odd to have so much time in-between an opening act and the main show. A couple of young girls tried starting a chant for “Brandi, Brandi,” but eventually the lights went down and the show was on.
I’ll admit, I was excited. I like Brandi’s music, certainly, and I’m apparently even more of a fan than I might have realized, but it was even more than that. I’ve spent so much time watching her live clips online, it was surreal to actually see that very same thing happening in person right in front of me. Kind of how the anticipation of The Dark Knight led me to be almost giddy at the movie finally started playing, as Brandi and her band walked on stage I said, out loud, “Woah.” Heck, though, I AM a fan, and it was just darn thrilling to see her in person. I was a little starstruck, and I can admit it ;). Although it’s her talent, voice, and music that really turns me on, she’s one fantastic looking gal, too. I supposed I’d never given much attention to just how small and sexy she is when I watched her online, but… dang:
Brandi had fun with the audience, as I’d see her always do on YouTube, and even though I told a friend of mine yesterday that I wouldn’t… Ms. Carlile got me to sing along. By golly, I sang along. I had a big smile on my face through pretty much the whole show. I had my camera with me, as always, but I didn’t want to hold it up and record a whole show… I just wanted to enjoy it. I did snap a picture, though, just for memory’s sake:
They played songs from all three of her albums, along with a couple of covers (including the above-linked “Folsom Prison Blues”), and whether the song was acoustic, completely unplugged (which was fantastic), or so energetic and loud that I could feel the sound of the kick drum pulsing through my chest, I absolutely loved the show. One of my favorite songs of the evening was a fantastic rendition of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” I almost got a tear in my eye. Almost. Actually, there was another moment that DID get me a little moist in the ocular region.
Back when I was first discovering Brandi and her music, I came across this video of her bringing a young fan up to sing one of her beautiful songs, “Wasted,” with her:
She wasn’t patronizing, and you could tell just how much Brandi enjoyed it, but this is something that little kid is going to remember forever. It’s, very simply, cool. Before last night’s show started, up in the balcony above (where there were chairs), I noticed a family with two young kids… one of them a little girl. Very early on into the show, Brandi noticed them, too. I caught her look up and smile during one of the songs, but it was near the end of the night’s set when Brandi sang a good minute right to that little girl (who was on her feet and clapping, by this point) with a big smile on her face. It was adorable and awesome, and I don’t know who else noticed… but I thought it was beautiful.
Similarly, as Brandi walked off the stage a final time, she noticed the girl above (in a shot I took as we were leaving after the show) sitting on her dad’s shoulders, and as she had been tossing picks out to the audience all night, she smiled big and made sure that little kid got one, too.
My legs were starting to give way after more than a few hours of
standing in one awkward spot not able to move, but I didn’t care. After the show was over, I skipped (literally, as I was fully of energy and happiness), over to the Lego store and looked around a bit before heading back to my car. On the long drive home I blasted Brandi Carlile’s latest CD, as I sang along and danced in my car. There’s a transference of energy there, that I am VERY susceptible to, and it took me a couple of hours to calm down and go to bed.
I had a completely wonderful evening, in spite of some minor missteps in the beginning. As I wrote on Facebook when I got home, “There is nothing sexier than a woman who sings with soul… unless she also happens to rock.”
And so, I’ll leave you now… with a little rock:
UPDATE: An hour or so after posting this, someone finally added some videos to YouTube from my concert (I was hoping to see them before publishing the entry, but it’s alright). One of them is the Dylan song I mentioned above, so here ya go…