Hootie and the Blowfish - 11/25/01 @ HOB

In the early 90’s a list of “alternative” music was emerging…alternative at that time meant different, NOT main stream. Ranging from the Cocteau Twins, Cranberries to the Morrisey’s Belly and Nirvana’s…these groups and people made alternative a format…then there’s the Hootie and the Blowfish's…a different alternative to the already labeled alternative. Ranging from Dave Matthews Band to Hootie him (them) selves…their all-American sounding groups woke up and got away from the depressed mode and played rock, less grungy. They were safe to listen to and were simple.

A decade later and a new century at that most of these groups are no longer or are called something else. Over all the music taste is different and there are new alternatives to alternative music. These alternatives have melted away what others had had. A new generation has emerged and the only thing keeping this now aging groups together are the faithful and cult followers. For acts such as Tori Amos, Morissey, Depeche Mode Bjork, and Ani DiFranco to still have sold out shows, shows how strong a following can be. Hootie and the Blowfish have this following and it showed at their sold out show this Sunday.

This tour was a shock to many, including myself. Several “they're still together?" comments were uttered when this HOB blues show was announced. The tour is to support a forth-coming album do out early next year…it also was to show they are not dead, yet.

The 2 + hour set was a mix of the new, the old and the covered. The old was mixed in each other song…those songs being “I go blind,” “time,” “let her cry” (which had some ad lib lyric moments), “when I get there” (which sported a rap session towards the end), “hold my hand,” and “I only want to be with you.”

There were many highlights to the show in between sets…during “I go blind,” a few seconds into the song, lead singer Darius Rucker stopped to break up a fight that was taking place and only continued when the fighting stopped starting, "Hooties isn't about this...it's about love..."

During “I only want to be with you,” before the last verse was sung, the band broke out in “walk this way” from Aerosmith.

The covers themselves were nice touches to the show. Ranging from Santana’s “black magic women,” to their version of Led Zeppelin’s “hey hey what can I say” which appears on the tribute album Encomium.

They had fun and so did the audience…though the help of the Bears game going on in between the opening act and them, plus a win at that…the audience was well liquored up and ready to rock.

Speaking of the opening band…Jonasay “from Washington DC”…I write that in quotes because it seemed that the band was more of a broken record constantly telling us were they were from. Plus their styling could be compared to anything to hear today on the “adult rock ” radio stations (i.e. Train, Vertical Horizon). They mainly played material off their debut CD, “given away,” “novocain,” and “ultraman” while debuting new material as well…I didn’t see a point of doing that.

Which brings me to my next point…the future of safe-American-bands. Now that we are in this new millennium…and the next generation is starting to mature into reasonable music listeners we may have to question the future. While the bands are getting old, so are the people. At this show the average age was at least 33.5…me being the youngest in the room! While tonight’s group of people seemed to love the new stuff…who’s to say they’ll actually buy it.

Hootie will get the typical cult buying when the new album hit’s the shelves. Just like it did last year with their all covers album they will follow the Tori’s (who’s new album debuted at #4) and the Radiohead's (#1) and make it to the top 10 and then when week 2 hits they will sink and soon be gone off the charts.

Ten yeas ago these kind of groups stayed on the charts because these were the alternative groups that didn’t sound like everyone else. Now we have Train, Guster, Stroke 9, and the Vertical Horizon’s out there to thank because they ruined something by their mimicking the originators of this form of alternative. That’s why Hootie today shocked people with a return. New Hootie listeners may not know the history and label them “sounds like everyone else” and move on to the new sound.

Unlike Dave Matthews and his band…Hootie has no “new sound”…their new material that was presented to us sounded like it was from 1994…leaving some to wonder what was new and what was old.

So will Hootie continue to blow with his fish and sell out shows?...or will they just blow?

--Todd - Chicago - iownu2@yahoo.com

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