Squeeze, Will Hoge @ Starland Ballroom - 8/6/07
Going to a rock concert should not be an unpleasant experience, but all too frequently venues are not set up for comfort.
Case in point, on August 6th I went to Starland Ballroom to see Squeeze, and Will Hoge. I arrived just minutes before Will Hoge and his band took to the stage. At the time, Starland Ballroom was about two-thirds full. There was room to breathe and move around, and while the room wasn't exactly cool, it was still within a level of comfort.
Will Hoge and his band were absolutely amazing. I've had several opportunities to see Will play over the last 5 years, and he never puts on a bad show, but on this particular night, in front of an audience that largely was unfamiliar with him and there to see Squeeze, he showed what a rock & roll show should be. During his short 30 minute set he did some rockers, but really shined when he was doing more soulful tunes like, "silver and gold" (from his forthcoming album due out Oct. 9th), and his set closer, "lover tonight". But the real highlight was a blues rock version of "sweet magdeline" that segued beautifully into the powerful rock soul of "woman be strong". Those two songs side by side may very well be my favorite live performance so far this year.
If you haven't yet seen Will Hoge live, I highly recommend you stop by Maxwell's in Hoboken on September 19th for his highly anticipated return to the Garden State.
In the 40 minutes between when Will Hoge's set ended and Squeeze's began, Starland Ballroom swelled to what appeared to me to be over capacity. When I was at the Warped Tour the other day I saw photos of overcrowded caged animals at the PETA tent. I now know how those animals felt. There was no cool air to be found...no air really, I think all I was breathing was the sweat coming off of the people around me. I was packed in, couldn't move. People were still trying to push their way forward, so I would frequently be bumped into by other sweaty people. One such person, who happened to be just a few inches taller than me, decided to stand right in front of me once Squeeze took to the stage. Great, now I'm packed in, hot and sweaty, surrounded by other sweaty people, and can no longer see the stage. This is supposed to be a fun concert, not torture.
For their part, Squeeze didn't sound bad...except that the vocals sounded muddy, which was surprising to me as the vocals were perfect sounding during Will's set. I stuck around for about 30 minutes of Squeeze's set, even hearing them do the well known hit, "another nail in my heart", but I couldn't enjoy it, not when it continued to get more cramped and hot and smelly from the sweat smell permeating the air.
Starland Ballroom could really be a good venue, but they need to sell less tickets so that people can have a little bit of room.