Brick City Music Hall, Gainesville, FL • February 2, 1999
Lee Ann Leach
I loaded up my van with three teenagers (two of my own and one “borrowed”), and headed north to Gainesville to see Collective Soul for the first time in two years on their “pre-tour” tour of the Southeast. We arrived at the venue at 3:30 PM to find bassist Will Turpin getting out of a taxi from God knows where, and to see drummer Shane Evans and guitarist Dean Roland heading down the street to God knows where else! It was good to see Turpin again, and finally get to see pictures of his baby boy, Tristan, born to him and wife, Donna, while the band was on their two year hiatus. While talking to Turpin, my AOL Collective Soul message board buddies showed up, and we all finally met each other face to face and had our own personal tailgate party in the parking lot, complete with Taco Bell and Peach Faygo. This little party lasted a good 5 hours before we were actually let inside the venue for showtime.
The line going into the venue by the time the doors opened stretched down and around the block from Brick City. Openers Darlahood came out and played a loud and rowdy 45-minute set to a great response from the packed-in-like-sardines crowd. I couldn’t tell you the name of the songs played by Darlahood if my life depended on it, as the sound was quite distorted and spoken words were difficult, if not impossible, to hear. There were no set lists to peek at to get an idea of what was going on, but the band themselves were tight and hungry, with a nasty, funk-groove to a lot of the tunes played and that alone got the crowd going and fired up for the headliners.
After a long set change, Collective Soul roared onto the Brick City stage with one of the songs off the new Dosage CD, “Tremble For My Beloved.” Don’t be fooled by the name. This is no sweet and sappy love ballad, but one of force and power steeped in the signature Collective Soul bright harmonies. As soon as the yet-unknown tune had ended, the band slid into a familiar song that had the crowd pushing forward for a better view and screaming in recognition, with “Precious Declaration.” If there’s one thing Ed Roland can do, it’s work a crowd into a frenzy. The man was literally on fire with excitement and exuberance to be out on the road and touring again. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him more alive and energetic than he was at this show, literally bouncing from the monitors and slinging sweat in all directions. At one point, Roland was so into the performance he slammed the microphone stand into the stage and bent it into a nice L-shape. Quickly running to Will Turpin’s mic and snickering, he announced, “Uhhhh, I broke the mic stand! Do you see what you people make me do?”
Lead guitarist Ross Childress gave an amazing solo on the crowd favorite “Where The River Flows,” and in the one cover tune of the evening, Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fightin’,” he got so carried away, the bottom string on his guitar popped and sprang out! Luckily, long-time crew member “Charlie” was there with another PRS to quickly replace it, and they continued on without missing a beat.
Backstage afterwards, drummer Shane Evans told my youngest, “If you ever see Lars Ulrich, be sure to tell him that Shane Evans is comin’ after him!,” and I can quite honestly say, that Georgia boy ain’t lying! Evans has honed his drumming skills into a driving, hard-hitting cadence and he, like the rest of the band, put forth so much effort and passion into the playing that it astounded everyone.
Brother to Ed, Dean Roland added grace and beauty to the Varsity Blues soundtrack hit “Run” when he dropped his position at rhythm guitar and handily played the eerie keyboards that haunt the MTV favorite. Turpin smiled and eagerly watched the crowd for reaction as he held the band up with the bottom line on bass. Another new tune debuted before the wildly flailing Gainesville crowd was “Generate.” Even though the crowd hadn’t heard the song before and didn’t know the words to sing along, as they did in all the others, “Generate” received one of the very best responses of the whole show. I can almost assure that this will be one song that will make it to single status on rock radio.
Collective Soul closed out the evening with an encore of two songs, “Heavy,” currently on “heavy” rotation on hard rock radio as the band’s new single, and the song that made Collective Soul known for their unique sound, “Shine.” Sweaty, worn out, smiling people flooded out the Brick City Music Hall in Gainesville, all agreeing that it was one of the best shows they had ever seen for the mere ten bucks it cost to get in the door. If this was a “warm-up” show for the real tour, due to begin on March 6 in Canada, I can only imagine how much better it will be when they come back through Florida for the full blown concert!