|Austin, TX, August 14, 2003.
Since my other cohorts in two days of mischief and fun have already posted the essentials, I thought I would take this opportunity to briefly comment on the music and performance of Steve's show at The Mercury on Thursday night.
Let me start by saying that, all the gooey fanaticism aside, I think the music of Steve Burns speaks for itself. Despite some technical difficulties in his first official live show on the Dustmites World Tour (a not unexpected phenomenon at first shows), I think that message came across loud and clear. In other words, I think the live show did justice to all of the hard effort that Steve has obviously put into making Songs for Dustmites. It is difficult at best to re-create some songs in a live environment, but frankly I was shocked and amazed at how well some of the layered material on the album translated into live play. Of particular note was the pure rock of "Mighty Little Man" (in full electric mode this time), and, of course, finally being able to hear live versions of Troposphere and Superstrings, and a beautiful version of Stick Around, three of my personal favorites.
The varied talents of the Starlight Mints were the perfect complement to Steve’s tunes. Although I am a novice Mints fan, these guys (and gal) obviously have talent to spare, playing two keyboards, a bass guitar, various electric guitars, a flute and strings. A flute and strings!!! When is the last time anyone saw that in a club performance? Jason, of course, supplied the drums and was clearly polished and comfortable playing with Steve. It was nice to see that he had the upgraded drum kit this time around. :) Not the least of the instruments was Steve himself, who – in addition to emceeing the affair, driving the video, playing electric and acoustic guitars, and chasing down someone named "Charlie" for technical support – clearly put his heart (and some lungpower) into the vocals. I was most pleased that, unlike many concerts I’ve been to before, I could actually hear the vocals! When the lyrics mean so much to the songs, it was nice to see that whoever was working the soundboard didn’t skimp on the vocals frequency.
The video was definitely an unexpected addition to the show. From Paul Ford’s handiwork (a tremendously hilarious introduction on the philosophy of "ROCK AND ROLL!!!!!!") to numerous snippets of Steve variously balancing guitars on his chin, juggling fire, sporting the familiar green-striped shirt, and being hounded by angels and devils and an angelic dokomun, the video accompaniment definitely played to those who were already familiar with Steve, and certainly introduced those who were not to the generally quirky, intelligent humor and thoughtful fun that has garnered Steve numerous additional fans beyond the usual "children, mothers, and stoned college student" fan-base. Well….with what appeared to be well over 150 people in attendance, maybe there were a "few" stoned college students in the crowd and there was certainly no shortage of moms. :)
Were there glitches? Yep. No need to whitewash it. Some of the playing – more appropriately stated as "playing together" - could have been crisper, and the video synchronization needed a little work. But I have it on good authority that, as of the time of this writing, the second show in Houston improved on and overcame these minor setbacks dramatically. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the show. Letting my compatriots barnstorm the stage and handle the aforementioned "gooeyness", I was happy to sit back and enjoy the moment for what it was: a chance to hear some really good music by a talented and enthusiastic performer.