emmet swimming-ly

If you went away for spring break, you may have had fun, but you missed one heck of a show on Saint Patrick’s Day. As the green beer flowed, emmet swimming had a filled to overflowing Fat Tuesday’s rocking.

If you’ve never seen or heard emmet swimming, they’re hard to describe. The sound of the band on the CD vaguely resembles REM, but the closest equivalent to singer Todd Watts is Tears for Fears.

However, in a live situation, their sound is different, largely due to the introduction of bassist Rob Shaw. Between him and drummer Tamer Eid, they’ve developed a ferocious rhythm section. Try to imagine Rush’s Neil Peart with Les Claypool from Primus and you might have some idea of how they sound together. At various times, Rob was singing, although it wasn’t in time with Todd and didn’t seem to make much sense at all. I have a theory that he was singing “I’m a Little Teapot Short and Stout”, but I can’t be sure.

The couple of covers they did were quite interesting: a Willie Nelson tune, guitarist Erik Wenberg handling the vocals on an REM tune, and a really odd (but good) choice, Belly’s “Feed The Tree”.

The new songs were all well done, though some were especially memorable. These included “Emmet Swimming”, “Lisa Says”, “Expect Me”, and the closer, “Boone’s Farm Wine”, a certain future favorite of GMU students. Todd introduced “I Believe” as their only Irish tune, and it was quite enjoyable as well.

You wouldn’t think Fat Tuesday’s would be big enough for stage diving, but several people in the audience attempted it before the management requested that they stop. The crowd was very into the show, and even though the biggest reaction came from the older songs, the new songs got an enthusiastic reception as well.

Talking with Tamer and their manager between sets revealed some good news. emmet swimming has been touring the east coast (and attracting some label interest), but has taken some time to record new songs. They’ve recorded seventeen new tracks of which about ten will make their next album. The new CD will probably be out in July and will be available at local CD stores that participate in The Local Music Store network.

For more information on emmet swimming, drop a line to: S.G. Entertainment, P.O. Box 1116, Fairfax, VA, 22030.

[Originally published in Expulsion, an independent George Mason University student newspaper]

Satriani rocks Constitution

For those of you who may not have heard of Joe Satriani, he is the world’s greatest living guitar player. He proved it once again at Constitution Hall on Tuesday night. Recently, Joe toured with the Bissonette brothers, David Lee Roth’s old rhythm section, and I assumed they would return on this tour. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see the return of Joe’s original tour mates: Jonathan Mover on drums and Stuart Hamm on bass.

After a mercifully short set of mostly covers by an unknown Canadian band, Joe stormed the stage. He started the show with the first two singles off his last studio album, The Extremist, “Summer Song” and the title track. He then proceeded to perform songs off his breakthrough album, Surfing With the Alien, and its follow-up, “Flying in a Blue Dream”. Early high points included the emotional “Always With Me, Always With You” and a savage reworking of Hendrix’s “Red House”.

The reason for this tour is to promote Joe’s newest album, Time Machine, a two CD career retrospective. The second CD is a full 75 minutes of live Satch, mostly drawn from his recent tour. The first CD contains b-sides and unreleased songs as well as three new songs recorded by the current band which Joe took an obvious pleasure in performing.

One of the unexpected highlights of the night was Stu Hamm’s bass solo, including a magnificent rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” that had the crowd on its feet. For an encore, Joe ripped through a take on “Surfing With The Alien” that left the crowd breathless.

[Originally published in Expulsion, an independent George Mason University student newspaper]

Blind Melon at UMBC sans Bee Girl

One of the best times to go see a group is after their album has become popular enough for them to become headliners, but before they start outgrowing the smaller places. Such a situation occurred with Blind Melon at the sold-out UMBC Fieldhouse on February 23.

Often derided by the publisher of this paper as U Made a Bad Choice, the campus is actually nicer than Mason’s. Imagine, if you could, a college campus built in a valley. However, the parking did have something in common with Mason’s, and your humble reviewer was only able to see the last minute-and-a-half of the first band, Alice Donut. Judging by the crowd reaction, though, I wasn’t sorry I missed them.

After a short wait, the Meat Puppets took the stage. Former label mates of Black Flag, their latest album, Too High to Die, is their eighth, although their major label debut. Their set mostly consisted of tracks from their new album and their previous album, Forbidden Places. The peak of their performance came with “Backwater”, a great song picking up some heavy airplay on WHFS. The Puppets are a really tight and versatile band, although their songwriting could use some work. The majority of their songs are easily forgettable.

After about a half an hour and a lot of anticipation, Blind Melon appeared. They kicked off the set with “I Wonder”, then brought a huge response from the crowd with “Tones Of Home”. Their set consisted mostly of songs from their eponymous debut. All were received well by the crowd, but the one that brought the house down (and more crowdsurfers than you would have thought possible) was their extended version of “No Rain”. No Bee-girl arrived, but no one seemed to care.

Blind Melon’s encore was incredible. They started by debuting a new acoustic song, “Walk”. After that, they enthusiastically tackled The Velvet Underground’s “Candy Says”, which segued into Social Distortion’s “Ball And Chain”. The highlight of the evening came when they ripped into a killer version of Led Zeppelin’s “Out On The Tiles”, followed by an impassioned performance of “Soak The Sin”.

Blind Melon’s performance was extremely energetic; each band member is quite talented and the band is not just a showcase for singer Shannon Hoon. I urge anyone who has the chance to see Blind Melon before they move to larger venues.

[Originally published in Expulsion, an independent George Mason University student newspaper]