Cool For August

Cool For August

with Matchbox 20

Bob Carr Center, Orlando • 2.4.98

Cool For August is one of those bands everyone tries to push into one pigeonhole or another, but usually screws it up. The band is definitely in the pop vein, but don’t sell them short because of it. Their music is sophisticated; their lyrics are intelligent.

Since they were the opening act for a big-time famous band, they got a mere ten minutes for sound check, so they did “On & On.” What I heard was a fabulous, relaxed version of this nifty song. It was even better than the version they did during their show. Too bad the crowd outside couldn’t really hear it.

They played for about three-quarters of an hour, doing most of the songs from their CD, Grand World, plus some surprises. They really stunned the crowd when vocalist Gordon Vaughn launched into “Fast Car,” the Tracy Chapman classic. Halfway through, Rob Thomas, vocalist for Matchbox 20, joined him on-stage and promptly started singing the wrong verse.

The sound mix was really poor at the start of the set. The crowd began to shout at Vaughn that they couldn’t hear his vocals, so he climbed down and walked into the seats with his mike until the sound was adjusted to his liking. This single act of caring won the band considerable fans.

Matchbox 20, the latest in a series of Orlando bands to hit it big because of hype from WJRR radio, quickly showed the crowd what fame and fortune had done for them: they are now full-fledged rock-star assholes. They strutted and pranced around the stage like their shit didn’t stink. The music was fine; their attitudes spoiled it.

The Bob Carr is not the ideal venue for a rock show. The acoustics are poor, the seats prevent much moving around, and the capacity is prohibitive. This show had been sold out for weeks. I’ll bet they could have filled the lower bowl of the Orlando Arena easily.

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