Return to C’Ville: Blind Pilot & Cotton Jones


Last week in my Valentine’s Day post, I said I’d let you know if I didn’t cry if Blind Pilot played “Three Rounds and a Sound” on Friday night [the 17th] at their show at the Jefferson. Believe me, I tried not to.But then Israel Nebeker unplugged his guitar and he and the other five members of the band climbed off the stage and stood on the floor of the theater, probably right about where our officiant will stand. He asked for our cooperation: he and the band would like to play something “unplugged” for us. In return we were to be extremely quiet and keep our cell phones and cameras away, just for a few minutes.

The [quite large] crowd obliged, and for about three minutes the Jefferson was dead silent except for the band and the subtle hum of people singing along. It was one of the best musical moments. Full stop. So excuse me for choking back a tear or two, I couldn’t help think about how S & I will soon be dancing there where they played. I joked that we should hire them to play for the wedding.** [Listen: “Three Rounds and a Sound“]

From beginning to end, last night’s Cotton Jones and Blind Pilot concert at the Jefferson Theater was one of the most energetic and fun shows I’ve seen there, possibly since Dr. Dog last April. Cotton Jones is a Maryland-based band that Shaun and I unfortunately missed last fall when they were in Charlottesville, so we were thrilled to see they would be opening for Blind Pilot. Their set was short but well curated [a mix of their older and newer bob-dylan-does-motown-style work***], and managed to tackle a few of my favorites. [Listen: “Place at the End of the Street” – performed in C’Ville! and “Somehow to Keep it Going“] I would have far preferred to see them in a more intimate setting, but thought the set was great regardless.

On the other hand, Blind Pilot is one of the few bands that I believe actually benefited from the jump from The Southern [where I saw them in the fall of 2009] to The Jefferson. Some of their bigger, faster pieces – ones that were a bit noisy in the Southern’s tiny basement – filled the space quite well last night. [Listen: “We Are the Tide“] Plus, the power and virtuosity of the individual musicians made it such that even the quieter pieces expanded throughout the whole theater. Blind Pilot was made for a space like the Jeff.

One thing I did discover last night is the true impact of production quality on a record. After a few listens to their newest [September 2011] record, We Are the Tide, I was convinced it was significantly different than 2009’s 3 Rounds and a Sound – bigger, pop-ier, flashier. However, last night’s set alternated between old anthems [Listen: “The Story I Heard“] and new ones [Listen: “Half Moon“] allowing me to compare them more closely. We Are The Tide, rather than representing a shift in form for the band, actually seems to be a shift in production [some would argue over-production] of the second record.

Nevertheless, their set was great fun, and although it lasted until after midnight [almost two hours], it was clear that the audience and the band members were having a blast. Israel’s voice never faltered, and he was in perfect harmony with the rest of the band. I’ve never watched a crowd cheer for individual band members the way they did last night when Dave Jorgensen [trumpet] or Ian Krist [vibraphone] would play a solo. The audience ate it up, and I did, too. I even forgot it was three hours past my bedtime – and that’s a sign of a really impressive show [and a really talented band].

I’ll be interested to see where Blind Pilot goes from here. It’s clear, even just from their jump in venue from ’09 to ’12, that they’re on their way up. But as long as they keep savoring the tiny, unplugged moments, that’s perfectly fine with me.

I imagined the young [oh so young] boys and girls there wondering who the creepy old lady in the corner crying was, hoping her cat didn’t die or something.

** Ok, it wasn’t a total joke. It was legitimately discussed for a few minutes, but I think our choice of “first dance” song is too perfect to replace.

*** Shaun’s description, not mine.

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Categories: C-Ville, Music

Author:ryesandshine

Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/

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