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]