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Duncan Sheik
A Concert Review

August 23, 1997

The Park West

Chicago, IL

A Review and Photos by
Stu Gotz
Duncan Photo 1
After having the opportunity to have a few words with him back in 1996, I was left with the impression that Duncan was the meekest person in modern music today. After seeing him perform at Chicago's Park West recently, I was left with somewhat a different impression. I still think he's a meek guy, but his performance that night brought out such a sincere child-like quality in him I dare say he was "moving." It was obvious that the man simply loves his music and loves to share it with his audience. Aside from some personal problems I was having that night (sorry but I care not to share them with you here and now), I dare say this was the most laid back and enjoyable musical experience I've ever had. I've seen a lot of shows in my time so I think that says a lot! But before I get all warm and huggy… I must share with you some disappointments with this night's line-up.

Duncan Sheik, without a doubt, is a strong, up and coming name in modern music, and I'm sure any struggling band would be willing to give their little toes to be his opening act. With that, I'm not sure what deal this unsigned band from Indiana struck with the Devil to get their spot on his stage, but I must say I was totally disappointed. Being the nice guy that I am I will not name the band but will simply say this… You can take the band out of the garage but you cannot take the garage out of the band. Or, as my buddy Wheeze put it, "They're like John Mellencamp, without all that bothersome talent." I'm not sure who arranged this pairing but I hope they get canned! I sat through some terrible opening acts and acts that didn't match the headliner, but aside from the Geraldine Fibbers opening for Joan Osborne this was the worst!

Duncan Sheik Photo 2
The night's second opening act faired a little better in my book and was more readily accepted by the audience, and the fact that the second act was Duncan's guitarist should account for that. He was allowed to take the stage to perform three highly experimental, solo guitar rifts. I kind of thought it was cool, but it seemed that only about 25% of the audience were in tune with his efforts. Hmmm… Was it their closed minds or simply the mellow guitar loftings set to a recorded on-stage loop that wasn't to their liking? Fuck 'em. I liked it and thought it was great that Duncan gave his guitarist a chance to make his own name, much like Duncan had the chance to make his own name while playing for Lisa Loeb.

Unfortunately the night's disappointments did not stop there. Sadly I must say that I was not fully impressed with Duncan's performance either. Now if you're saying to yourself "Hold it! Stu, you started this article by saying 'This was the most enjoyable and laid back musical experience I've ever had.' You're contradicting yourself, asshole!" Well wait a minute. First of all, don't call me an asshole, and secondly allow me to explain the "contradiction." I've seen Duncan perform three times now and all three shows were enjoyable. Unfortunately though, all three show were pretty much the same. Simply put, for a review of this show, you can check out any of the archived reviews. Talented as he may be I don't see Duncan evolving as an artist. Now that doesn't always mean writing and playing new music, but also taking old and well-known songs and changing them up a little. You know, maybe a little "unplugged", or just Duncan with a guitar and no accompaniment. Why not slow a song down or rev one up and give it a punk feel? These are the things that I would like to hear because the "same-old, same-old" is becoming mundane to me. It's a good show, just the same show.

Since the time I had seen him open for Jewel at Chicago's tiny Metro Theatre I have always enjoyed Duncan Sheik's musical renderings, and I wish him and his band a long and prosperous career. Seeing Duncan perform at Chicago's intimate Park West was for me the perfect atmosphere to enjoy his music. I don't doubt that he could, and will someday, fill large outdoor venues, but for me it just wouldn't be the same. I give Duncan Sheik TWO "GOOD TO SEE HIM AGAIN" THUMBS UP and I'm Stu Gotz. 'Nuff said!


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