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Edwin McCain
A Concert Review

June 19, 1998

House of Blues

Chicago, IL

A Review by
The Dude on the Right
It's Friday night and I'm going through Bull's withdraw. I was almost tempted to blow off seeing Edwin McCain, sit in my apartment, and watch a videotape of Game 6 of the Bulls versus Jazz. But I made my way to the House of Blues this Friday night, through a roomful of PUPpies (Potential Urban Professionals - last year or just out of college, guys with short, well-groomed hair wearing Dockers-style pants and golf shirts, and girls who are hanging on their arm unaware of their fate in three years to be dumped as they are planning their wedding), and found myself in a seemingly good spot behind the soundboard, seemingly until "The Dude Concert Curse" kicked in and this PUPpie girl made her way annoyingly next to me. But to her and her friends later, I was there to see Edwin McCain, and as I lumbered through the opening act I wondered why/how the place was packed for a band who really doesn't get played much on the air in Chicago. I found out why.

My take on how Edwin McCain has achieved the concert popularity it has is like this: Edwin McCain, the band, is just super talented, able to perform with the rest of the big boys, but they don't use stage antics to bring the crowd into the music, they use the music to bring the crowd into the music; Meanwhile, Edwin McCain, the singer/songwriter, just has this great ability to put emotions into words and let those reach out to the masses. Put those two things together and what you get is a band that builds its popularity on word of mouth rather than being bombarded on the radio every ten minutes.

Now, as I was trying to listen to Edwin McCain, I also got to listen to PUPpie girl next to me who spent most of the concert telling her friend how much of a fan she was and that she loved his hair, meanwhile her PUPpie dude friends stood behind me telling each other what song they could play in their room to get their PUPpie girl to hop into bed with them. I just wanted to listen to the music, so I moved.

Now I was familiar with the songs on Edwin McCain's latest CD, "Misguided Roses," and the boys of the band hit on most of my favorites, but I obviously didn't belong like most of the rest of the crowd because they knew every song, every word, and knew all of the times when crowd participation was appropriate. But I was there more on an investigative mission, to find the mystery of the popularity of Edwin McCain, and I guess enjoying myself just happened to be a pleasant side-effect.

The music, well, I can't say it hasn't been done before - it's your acoustic guitar driven rock/pop sound, that on the surface sounds sort of generic. But its key to bringing in the masses is that buried in there are deep messages - sometimes happy, sometimes sad, but always with a meaning. But past the music is the band, who is able to take that song you hear on the CD and make it just a little bit more, adding a band jam here, a subtlety there, and leading that band is Edwin, who has this great ability to keep things simple, yet still be able to wrap the crowd around his finger. You won't see much guitar posing, much running back and forth across the stage, but what you will see is a guy who sings every note with passion, then drifts back from his microphone a little and just smiles, like he is his happiest when he can just play.

I can't say that I'm now a huge Edwin McCain fan, but I do have a greater appreciation for them and understand their drawing power. But I don't matter for a review, what really matters is if the band makes their fans happy, and Edwin McCain did just that. From the old stuff to the new stuff, from the non-radio hits to their, well, one major radio hit, the crowd knew them all, and the band kept the fans dancing and singing for the entire show, well, all except maybe those chatty PUPpies that I moved from early on, although swear I could still hear them every now and then during the show.

It's TWO BIG OL' THUMBS UP for Edwin McCain. They may not be flashy, they might not be jumpy, but they sure can play.

That's it for this one, I'm The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!


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