*If you enjoy this show, you might also enjoy similar posts on Deep Banana Blackout, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, and Addison Groove Project.
Soulive 2005-08-20 Celebraterie Festival Erie, PA (Download)
I don't know why Dave and I do this to ourselves. He just finished a show review of the Hardest Band in the Universe to Genre-fy, and here I am trying to talk about a band only slightly less difficult to describe. A lot of the bands that I follow do a lot of this style melding, and it's no small part of why I like them so much. Musicians who turn live performances into the art-form it has become understand that their mission is greater than traveling to a bunch of places to play the same songs over and over.
I know some people hate looking at music as a business, but that doesn't change the fact that it's exactly that. So let's look at a band using a business analogy: The music of a great band is like a great software package. It starts with a solid base of something that is in demand, and it is constantly revised and improved based on what what will keep the end user (or fan) coming back for more. Does anyone think that The Dead would have nearly the following they still do if not for the fact that they toured constantly and were always learning and growing along the way...?
There is an excitement and anticipation for what will come from the next stop on the tour. What new cover or rare song might make it on to the setlist...? The best of the best (The Grateful Dead, Phish, Govt. Mule, Umphree's McGee, Widespread Panic, etc.) recognize that the product of their endless touring is more than showing up in different places and playing. It's about creating a running narrative with their fans that will keep them coming back for more, and it's also about the growth of the band itself.
A Soulive show illustrates this perfectly. The first time I ever saw this band was at the (unfortunately now defunct) Berkshire Mountain Music Festival. They played short sets each day of the festival and I was so impressed with the diversity of their sound and repertoire that I became a fan and remain one today. Was I hearing a jazz band, a live hip-hop band, or a James Brown/Jimi Hendrix cover band? No, I was hearing what can only be described as Soulive.
Tim Hammer of LAist- What do you think has been the secret to Soulive’s success?
Eric Krasno- I think it’s what we do with our live shows. We always bring energy to our live shows that our fans can appreciate. We are also trying to change what we do. We’ve been criticized a lot for changing our sound but in the end of it all, that’s what makes us happy. That’s really what helps us stay into this thing and stay fresh and stay excited.
Soulive is jazz and funk seasoned periodically with R&B, rock, hip-hop, reggae, and whatever else they feel like at any given time. Although centered around the trio of Eric Krasno, Alan Evans, and Neil Evans, the lineup of the band has also reflected the constant evolution of their sound, including at various times Sam Kininger, Rashawn Ross, Ryan Zoidis, Toussaint Yeshua, and others.
Here's "Reverb", which is included on the setlist for today's show-
This show is from 2005 and features the band in its 2nd "incarnation", when it included the Sam Kininger-led horn section and shows were more vocal heavy than they had been previously. The set is performed before an obviously involved audience, and the band has them worked into a frenzy by the end of it. In general, this was a very special time in the sonic adventure Soulive is on, and I think you'll be able to hear that. Some favorites of mine are the dub-infused "Reverb", a version of "Do it Again" with some stellar work on the keys and vocals reminiscent of "The Hardest Working Man in Showbusiness", and their covers of "Slippin' into Darkness" and "Crosstown Traffic". Here's the whole setlist:
1) Intro>Spinna>Uncle Jr., Vapor , Reverb, Slippin' Into Darkness *, One In Seven, I Know You Got Soul (Bobby Byrd), Crosstown Traffic, Do It Again *, (Crowd Noise), Tighten Up *
* Alan Evans on vocals
Sound is a B+, thanks to Levi Hunt for taping this show and DJ Necco for transferring it. Photo Credit is to the band's website, interview credit goes to Tim Hammer and the LAist.
-Soulive has a somewhat new album out entitled "No Place Like Soul" and I highly recommend checking it out if you liked this performance. The link above allows you to purchase it directly from the band's website and maximize your financial support to them.