Thursday, April 2, 2009

Review: Keller Williams 3/27 @ The Paradise

From the first time I saw Keller Williams he has held a special place in my heart. In fact, he was the artist that stimulated my interest in jam bands and helped me discover an entire genre of music that I never knew existed. Since 2006, I have seen Keller at least twice a year and he has always put on a remarkable show. March 27th at the Paradise Rock Club was no exception. Here’s the thing about Keller Williams: I always can semi-predict what his show will be like, yet I am still blown away every time.

This time, Keller did change it up a bit by including an awesome stage set-up, an upright bass and a crazy instrument that I still can’t figure out. The stage was arranged like a guitar store; with almost every kind of guitar Keller owns hanging from hooks. There was a register that had a glass case full of pedals underneath it, signs that said, “You Break it, You Buy it” and price tags on all of the instruments. As per usual, there was a rug in the middle of the stage and Keller was shoeless—a little piece of Keller that will always be the same.

During the first set Keller played an unbelievable bluegrass cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” He also squeezed in Tom Petty’s “Last Dance with Mary Jane” that transitioned into “Breakdown.” Then as he began to sing, “This is a novelty song. It's the kind of song that means absolutely nothing at all. Please take my advice; tune out the words. And focus on the bass,” he busted out a huge upright bass. Out of all of the times that I have seen Keller before I have never seen him play an upright bass; it was a welcome change. After “Novelty Song,” he played a few more traditional songs and walked off stage for a set break.

Compared to the first set, Keller’s second set blew me away. The set break seemed to liven him up a bit and he was more enthusiastic. The fact that I moved up to the front of the stage also could have had some influence. When he played “The Joker” by Steve Miller Band and the crowd and I went crazy. Seeing Keller perform live is like no other experience. Most bands do not differ too much from their studio albums to the stage but Keller is completely different. He plays all of the instruments himself, using a recording device to record one instrument before moving on to another. Keller Williams onstage is like a kid at the playground.

There was one point during the concert when Keller brought out a box that was previously covered with a towel. It was like he was trying to hide it from the audience throughout the show because he did not want us to understand how it worked. It looked like a box with an input and output socket that made sounds comparable to a drum machine. Everyone, including myself, was confused by this instrument but we were all excited about the sound it brought to the stage.

During the second half of the show Keller played more covers than ever. It is typical of him to do at least one cover during one of his concerts but I was shocked that he played so many. He ended with “Best Feeling” and “What I Got” by Sublime during the encore. Overall, the show went quite smoothly. I thoroughly relish Keller shows and this one is definitely be in my top three.

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