As a fan of live music, going from seeing a show at least twice weekly to no shows at all for about eight months has been rough, but it’s nothing compared to what venues and artists have gone through in that time. It’s been a year of live-streaming, fundraisers, and trying to find new ways of keeping the making of music and the creation of these unique communal experiences alive through these difficult times.
One of those ways that have emerged in recent months is the advent of drive-in concerts.
The Front Bottoms (Photo courtesy Baltimore Soundstage)
In August, The Front Bottoms released In Sickness & In Flames, the band’s fifth full-length studio album. Now, guitarist Brian Sella and drummer Mat Uychich are playing socially distanced drive-in shows, with a date at the Frederick Fairgrounds on Wednesday, Oct. 28, presented by Baltimore Soundstage!
The Smithereens perform at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia, on Jan. 17, 2020. (Photo by Mark Caicedo)
“In sickness and in health.”
Those words are normally reserved for particularly solemn occasions, but those same moments can be joyous, life-affirming and festive… much like a Smithereens concert, come to think of it. Friday night was just one of those instances with the New Jersey-based Smithereens making their 20th appearance at the State Theatre in Falls Church. For many of us battling colds, flu, and various other ailments, The Smithereens energetic, exuberant, and healing music was just the right medicine.
Five-time Grammy nominee Bettye LaVette got off to a rocky start when she opened for David Bromberg recently at the Historic Sixth & I Synagogue. After her first number, she pleaded for the tech to turn down the echo and reverb. With it its high ceilings — Bettye called the room a cavern — Sixth & I’s sanctuary provides its own echo. As Bettye remarked, with echo on her mic, it sounded a bit too much like “heaven,” and not in a good way.
One of The Birchmere’s charms is that you can really see the relationships artists have with their fans. Most artists interact with the audience; some have relationships with their fans. When Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes played The Birchmere recently, the rhythm was plenty blue, and the rock had lots of roll, but it was the relationship between the band’s charismatic frontman and the audience that made night special.