On an overcast August evening, on the bank of Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced: pond-o-ray) in Idaho, I came face-to-face with what I had considered to be my white whale. I was about to see a band that, for years, would play a few shows in the Pacific Northwest but, for some reason, those shows would fall on days that made it difficult for me to attend. This night, however, was my night. It was my night to check that band off my list, to realize the dream that had eluded me for so many years, and to spend a glorious evening in Sandpoint, Idaho…an Evening with CAKE.
But enough with the hyperbole. CAKE really is a band that I have wanted to see for the past 15 years, and something had always stood in the way of that, a family obligation, work, or what have you. So when I heard they were playing the Festival at Sandpoint on August 2, I knew that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t go.
After an unsuccessful attempt at recruiting friends to accompany me on my journey, I made the solo trek to the northern Idaho Panhandle. No ticket in hand and no hotel room booked. I showed up to the venue (Memorial Field) right when the doors opened, bought a ticket from someone off the street, and made my way through the gates. One thing that is great about this venue is their extremely relaxed policy on coolers. Basically, you can bring whatever food and drink you want inside, including alcohol. As you might imagine, this ends up saving you a ton of money during the show. At first, I thought this could turn out to be a complete shit show in terms of people drinking too much and acting like idiots. However, the crowd was extremely laid back and there were enough security and uniformed police officers to handle any drunken buffoonery.
CAKE took the stage a little after 7:30 p.m. and delivered two sets filled with all the songs I love. Songs such as, “The Distance,” “Sick of You,” “Rock ‘n’ Roll Lifestyle,” “Italian Leather Sofa,” their awesome cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” and many more. I was firmly planted at the railing near the front of the stage and soaked in every trumpet note blasted, while lead singer John McCrea’s Vibra-slap echoed in the northern Idaho night like the scream of a red-tail hawk.
I truly had a great time in Sandpoint that night and was bummed when it came to an end. There is no doubt in my mind that I will catch CAKE again someday, I just hope it doesn’t take me another 15 years.
Watch CAKE perform Long Skirt/Short Jacket at the Festival at Sandpoint:
CAKE performing Love You Madly at the festival. Shot with a GoPro worn by drummer Paulo Baldi:
Blitzen Trapper is awesome. If you haven’t been to one of their shows, what are you waiting for? On Sunday night the band ripped up The Kenworthy in Moscow, Idaho with their badass folk/alt country/indie rock jams that should make music lovers take note of this band’s greatness.
Earlier in the afternoon, I “hosted” the inaugural Concert Confessions Backyard Horseshoe Championship. I tweeted Blitzen Trapper an invite to join us in a game before the show. Unfortunately they couldn’t make it, but we still had a great afternoon of grilling, drinks, and pitching horseshoes. After a grueling semi-final match, I was bested in a sudden death championship round by the one and only, thenaturalstoner.
We headed over to the venue a little after 8 p.m., and had plenty of time to buy drinks and find good seats before the start of the show.
Seattle songstress, Sera Cahoone, took the stage around 8:15 p.m. and pulled the audience in with her melodic, bluegrass-influenced style. Sub-Pop records describes her as “one of the strongest songwriters in Seattle’s ever-vibrant Americana scene.” If you’re a fan of the genre, I would recommend giving her a listen.
Blitzen Trapper took the stage around 9:15 p.m. They opened with Fletcher, from their 2011 album American Goldwing. This is just one of many great songs on that album. Their music reminds me of those great American classic rock/folk songs of the 70’s and earlier 80’s by artists like John Fogerty, Steve Miller, and John Denver—a music style that takes me back to my childhood, when my family would travel throughout south east Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana to camp and fish.
At the request of frontman Eric Earley, people stood up from their seats and gathered near the front of the stage. The crowd, with their cups of Pabst Blue Ribbon in-hand, danced and sang along to favorites such as Love the Way You Walk Away, Furr, and God and Suicide.
We were treated to a few new songs, such as Heart Attack (video below). If the new songs reflect what the rest of the band’s album will sound like, it is going to be a great follow-up to American Goldwing.
From start to finish, this was an outstanding show. The band sounded great, the crowd was energized, and the intimate venue helped make the experience feel more personal. If Blitzen Trapper is headed your way, gather up your friends, spend the afternoon barbecuing and playing a few games of horseshoes, and then go check them out.
John’s Alley in Moscow, Idaho is known in most circles as the best venue to catch music in the Palouse region, however I wouldn’t exactly call hip-hop it’s main draw genre. So when Warren G got booked for last night, it was a “Must see” event for us rap music fans in the area. Having grown up and old with The G Child, this was a bucket list concert that was a pleasure to cross off the list, and it did not disappoint.
Warren G came out around 11pm after a couple of less than memorable warm-up acts (including one rapper that was a dead ringer for our own Jay Porks), and opened up the show with This DJ, one of my personal favorite Warren G tracks. This got the crowd worked up pretty good, and would soon be followed up with Do You See, another hit from his monster 1994 debut album Regulate… G Funk Era. The small venue eventually filled in and everyone was having a great time dancing and drinking up a storm.
Lookin’ At You kept the party vibe going strong and everyone was having a blast. A couple new Warren G tracks were played back to back, and while unfamiliar, they sounded really good. Party We Will Throw Now was particularly enjoyable.
An awesome medley of hits, some his and some others would soon follow, and everyone loves a good medley (especially when you throw in hits like The Next Episode, a personal favorite from Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, and Let’s Get High, another Dre staple).
The show would close in predictable style with the all-time classic Regulate wrapping up the set, followed by a short This DJ Reprise to take us all home. Everyone in attendance, all 250 or so of us, seemed to have an amazing time and got their moneys worth. Thank you John’s Alley for bringing in some legendary hip-hop for us fans up here in Eastern Washington/Northern Idaho. Kudos! Let’s do it again!
(You can see some of the live Ustream highlights posted from Concert Confessions regular The Mr. Sparkly here)
Usually I have to travel at least two hours to see a decent show, but sometimes my town surprises me. So when I heard Childish Gambino (Donald Glover) was performing for The University of Idaho’s Finals Fest, there was no doubt that I had to catch this act that I have been hearing so much about.
I’ll give credit where credit is due, Mr. Jay Porks has been praising Glover for more than a year, and I should have been listening. Glover is a triple threat–writer, comedian, rapper–who has been gaining popularity through talk show performances and festival appearances. In fact, Childish Gambino was on my must see list for the 2012 Sasquatch! Music Festival at the Gorge during Memorial Weekend.
The set was basically his debut studio album Camp in it’s entirety, with some additional gems such as Freaks and Geeks and an awesome Rolling in the Deep Remix that had the whole crowd bouncing. I was hoping that he would bust out some stuff from his previous mixtapes, but that didn’t happen.
Overall, it was a fantastic show and I can’t wait to catch his set again in a few weeks at Sasquatch!
Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival w/ Cyrus Chestnut, Dee Daniels and the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Gospel Choir & The Taj Mahal Trio
University of Idaho Kibbie Dome 02/26/10
Words/Photos by thenaturalstoner
I definitely picked an interesting (see: not great) show to make my first Concert Confessions review, and in hindsight I should have picked a different one, but we all make mistakes in our lives. The evening wasn’t terrible, but the crowd was, which I suppose is partially my fault.
Last night I went to the University of Idaho’s Kibbie Dome for the 44th Annual Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and left thinking I should have just saved the 45 bucks and punched myself in the face a couple of times instead. Little did I know, but the Jazz Festival is primarily about music education in our local area (Washington/Idaho Palouse region) schools. Thus, as I walked into the Dome last night, I immediately found myself surrounded by thousands of 12-16 year olds, something I hope to never have happen again in my life. There is one benefit to this, which I will touch on in a bit, but it felt like torture sitting there among those masses for much of the night.
The Kibbie Dome is an interesting venue to hold a concert. This is where the Idaho Vandals host their home college football and basketball games, but last night they had the Jazz Fest setup instead. Curtains were hung and the large Dome was cut into a fraction of its normal size. About 4,000 people were there I would estimate, but it didn’t stay that way throughout the night. I don’t know how Lionel Hampton of all people ended up throwing gigs in Moscow, Idaho, considering the racial/social mixup of the people that live here (95% white, mostly farmers), but this area is much better off that he did.
Friday night at the Jazz Fest this year was dubbed “Blues and Sacred Roots” night and The Taj Mahal Trio was the headlining act. I will admit that the blues are one of my least favorite genres of music, BUT Taj Mahal is someone I particularly like, so I was pretty pumped going into the night. Of course, finding my seat surrounded by rows and rows of kids going through puberty immediately started the evening off on the wrong foot.
The first act of the night was Cyrus Chestnut, a solo pianist that was a bit too mellow for my liking. Like, nodding off at my chair mellow. It wasn’t terrible, but after 30 minutes of southern piano (and no vocals) I was ready for something different. My girlfriend may have had the comment of the night when she said to me “he looks like a cross between Carl Winslow and Urkel from Family Matters”. That had me cracking up for a good while, mainly because she was spot on.
After Cyrus finished his set we witnessed a 10 minute promotional video showcasing the history of the Festival and its goals for the future. During this video the stage was setting up to host Dee Daniels and the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Gospel Choir. This set was better than the first, mainly because we had some vocals and upbeat rhythms to pick up the pace not only for me, but the entire crowd as well. Nevertheless we were instructed to remain seated during the entire night, so the energy in the Kibbie Dome was close to zero (except for all the 13 year olds trying to be the coolest kids in the world. Oh did I forget how old I have become). Dee Daniels has a great voice, but it’s another one of those where you want something else after the first 4 or 5 songs. I believe the Gospel Choir consisted of high schoolers from Lewiston High School (Lewiston, ID) and other local musicians and they played about 45 minutes before exiting the stage. A 15 minute intermission followed, and Taj Mahal was on deck.
Earlier I mentioned that there was one benefit of being surrounded by 12-16 year olds…. they have CURFEWS, and as the night grew longer, hundreds of kids were leaving left and right. Most of these departures were local school bands that had busses to catch, which was honestly the best thing to happen all night. As soon as the Choir set was over, approximately 40 kids directly in front and behind us all got up and had to leave! FINALLY I was not surrounded by kids talking and flirting and I could sit back and relax! And they just kept leaving, every song or two more groups would get up and go. I am curious how these headliners feel about this, as Taj was playing to an ever-dwindling audience (bad for him, great for me!). I assume the Festival lets the headliners know about this crowd situation, which I overheard happens every year, but it was an odd sight to me.
The Taj Mahal Trio started off his set with some Caribbean sounding roots music and blues standards. It really wasn’t until a few songs into the set when we got some of his hits that brought the remaining crowd to life. Queen Bee > Fishin’ Blues > Corinna back to back to back was THE highlight of the night. 3 of my favorite Taj Mahal tunes in a row really brought a sense of excitement to the Dome and the rest of the set fed off of that.
As it was Blues night, we were hit with some classic blues traditionals and some of Taj’s own personal tunes. As the night grew longer and the crowd grew smaller, I thought this show got better! We got a little piano, got a little banjo, the set was actually pretty good! After an hour and a half of good times the Trio bowed and walked off the stage to large cheers. They returned to play a one song encore, the only other Taj Mahal song I wanted to hear “Lovin’ in My Babies Eyes” and called it a night. Since he played the 4 or 5 songs I really wanted to hear I considered his set a success. I am not sure it made up for the prior sets or the crowd, but the evening ended up not being a total loss.
I don’t know when I will go back to the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival again. Looking back I feel like I have now “done it” and it will take an exceptional headliner to get me back there. Now that I know the crowd makeup, expectations and reality are much different than before. I can only wonder how much more fun I would have had if Taj had played a local club instead of this Festival. A night with the Taj Mahal Trio at John’s Alley Tavern could have been exactly what the doctor ordered, instead of the mixed bag I was dealt.