Saturday, July 27, 2019

Hootie & the Blowfish and Barenaked Ladies Bask in Nostalgia for the '90s at Blossom

Posted By on Sat, Jul 27, 2019 at 9:42 AM

click to enlarge SCOTT SANDBERG
  • Scott Sandberg
When Hootie and the Blowfish issued their 1994 debut, Cracked Rear View, the band was already seasoned. It cut its musical teeth on the bar circuit in and around its hometown of Columbia, SC. When they hit the road in support of Cracked Rear View, they initially played small clubs similar to the ones they worked in the South. But after album sales soared, the band would move up to bigger venues. At its heart, however, Hootie has always been a good bar band.

It put those bar band skills on display last night at Blossom in front of a capacity crowd that basked in nostalgia for ’90s alt-rock.

You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here.



The band began its set with “Hannah Jane,” the lead track on Cracked Rear View. Wearing skinny jeans and a Parliament T-shirt, singer Darius Rucker effortlessly commanded the stage, even though his voice was a bit buried in the mix at the concert's start. He led the audience through a clap-along to the 54-40 song “I Go Blind,” and his voice came into focus on a cover of Radney Foster’s “A Fine Line.” The gentle ballad “Not Even the Trees” proved to be an early highlight as the old-school organ riffs brought out the song’s soulful side.

The band perfectly executed “Hold My Hand,” one of its monster hits from the ’90s, but stumbled a bit on a cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” that found Rucker practically shouting the lyrics. Perhaps the night's best performance came during “Let Her Cry.” Rucker dug deep for his vocals, and the band executed the ballad perfectly.

Rucker introduced a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Hey Hey What I Can Do,” a song it cut for a Zeppelin tribute album, by saying that the band chose it because it was the only Zeppelin track he could actually sing. It led to a rendition of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” that found band members huddled around the microphone as they sang the bluegrass number in front of an image of the Ryman Auditorium.

“Time” sounded a bit more angst-y than its studio version as the band sped up the song’s tempo and drew out its moody tones. After that somber number, however, the concert’s party vibe again kicked into high gear as the group played a cover of “Wagon Wheel,” the Old Crow Medicine Show song that Rucker covered on a solo album, and turned out a rousing mash-up of “Old Man & Me,” Digital Underground's “Freaks of the Industry” and the Manhattans' “Shining Star” before delivering a cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends," again showing that, like any good cover band, the group is capable of playing just about anything, something it also proved earlier in the night when it brought out local singer-songwriter and producer Don Dixon for a rousing rendition of “Mustang Sally” that was a real show-stopper.

Barenaked Ladies, another band that found commercial success in the ’90s, proved to be a compatible opening act. The group peppered its hour-long set with hits such as “It’s All Been Done,” “Brian Wilson,” “Pinch Me” and “If I Had a Million Dollars.” With their references to cassette tapes and Lilith Fair, they adhered to the concert's '90s vibe and closed the set with a rowdy medley that includes snippets of “Whole Lotta Love” and “Another One Bites the Dust.”

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