|Hootie & The Blowfish
July 26, 2004 - The Big Easy - Spokane, WA
|review by Ashley Graham|
|It is no secret that the years have not been kind to mid-nineties phenoms Hootie and the Blowfish. The last few years have seen the release of a couple of albums, but nothing that helped put them back on the map. So, what, exactly are they doing on tour in the summer of 2004? Excellent question.
When openers John Eddie take the stage it is unclear what tonight is supposed to be about. With a sound reminiscent of Southern rock, but with extreme country influences, John Eddie sings songs with lyrics like "Well, I guess I'm fuckin' forty" and "Who the hell is John Eddie?" and loses my interest early on. But they get the crowd going for the simple reason that the crowd has been waiting for fun, and John Eddie is fun.
But nothing compared to the boys of Hootie.
From the instant that the band takes the stage, lead singer Darius Rucker is smiling. They are focused on having a good time and they could not care less about being cool. And after attending countless concerts where overly-thin twenty-somethings stand stationary on stage in their tight shirts and worn out jeans, Hootie and the Blowfish are refreshing.
They plow through their greatest hits and throw in several obscure songs from the Hootie catalog that no one in the crowd has heard, but still love. At about halfway through they start to generously mix in covers of the most randomly selected songs. In a solo medley, Rucker stands with his guitar singing clips from Tupac Shakur's "Gin and Juice" and Blackstreet's "No Diggity," and the smile never leaves his face. When the band returns they add in The Doobie Brothers' "Black Water," The Allman Brothers' "Melissa," and Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself." It is so much fun that you forget why you were ever hesitant to buy the ticket to their show.
Hootie and the Blowfish aren't distinguishing themselves by their own songs anymore, they are giving their fans a good time, and their accomplishment at the end of the night is nothing but admirable. After three encores, Hootie is finally done. Everyone wants more, but no one in the room feels cheated. And they will still be on a Hootie-high into the night. They may even pull out their old abused copy of "Cracked Rear View" for a couple of days of play, it was that good.
It is to their benefit that Hootie and the Blowfish are unconcerned with still being relevant. While success would be ideal, they seem content, and happy, to be doing what they are. They pack the house and they have everyone on their feet. For a band who had their last hit back in the late nineties, that says a lot.