Arlan Feiles, The Milwaukees @ Freehold Raceway Mall - 11/11/07
I hate malls. There was a time, in my teen years like most, when a mall was a place of endless fun. Movie theaters, arcades, food courts, and girls...lots of girls, none of whom would give me the time of day.
These days going to a mall doesn't bring me any joy. Overcrowded parking lots and stores, overpriced stores, lots of annoying shoppers, and what the hell happened to the arcade???
Anyway, despite all that, when I heard Arlan Feiles and the Milwaukees were playing acoustic sets at the Freehold Raceway mall, I had to check it out. When I think of mall concerts I think of Tiffany, and the early days of Britney Spears career, but this was going to be different, these local acts have real talent and put out CDs that should sell the millions that the aforementioned mall chicks albums did...hopefully one day these guys will.
Strangely, the show was sponsored by G Rock, a radio station that doesn't play local bands. It's really sad, because back in the days of the old WHTG (early 80's through late 90's), they regularly put local bands into the mix alongside more established artists on major labels. Maybe this show will be the first step in a change of direction for the once great station...but somehow I doubt it.
The Milwaukees kicked things off with a nice semi-acoustic set (2 vocals, 1 acoustic guitar, 1 electric guitar), that showcased a lot of tracks from their amazing new CD, "American Anthems volume 1". I've said it before, let me say it again, their new CD is one of my favorites of 2007.
The more laid-back acoustic nature of this show gave them the chance to really showcase the roots-rock/Americana vibe of the new CD. Unfortunately, the large atrium that was used as the performance area was not the best for sound, but the guys (who had to bring their own PA and run it themselves), managed to get a decent enough sound out of the room that some people were won over by their set. I know they managed to sell some merch afterwards, which is nice seeing as they didn't get paid for the gig. It's just a shame that most people walked by the stage ignoring the music. I'm guessing most would have preferred a teen pop idol type singer, instead of an act that actually has good songwriting ability. Sigh...
Surprisingly, some of the most attentive listeners to the live music were really little kids, like age 6 and under. Two in particular, seemed captivated by both acts and stood in front of the stage for a while, before their parents dragged them away to do more shopping. It kind of saddened me when the parents pulled them away, kids need to learn about good music at a young age, and they were having fun, let them enjoy it!
The Milwaukees finished their set playing the Boss's, "Atlantic City", but the shoppers didn't seem to take much notice of this lively cover. Shortly thereafter, Arlan Feiles took to the stage for another great set...which sadly, few people took time to stop and pay attention to. I envy Arlan, he's a great singer-songwriter who not only has one hell of a singing voice, but can play guitar and a keyboard with equal prowess. I'm not good at any of those three talents, it's not fair that he is good at all three. But what I don't envy is someone of his talent having to deal with an audience that doesn't care. Neither Arlan nor the Milwaukees deserved that.
In addition to playing stuff from his "raizing a nation" CD (which was re-released this summer and I highly recommend), Arlan also played a few tracks from his new solo album that should be out before the end of the year. Based on what I heard the new disc will be equally as entertaining as his previous.
While the mall is not the most opportune place for talented acts like the Milwaukees and Arlan to play, I still enjoyed their sets, and hopefully they gained a few new fans that might otherwise of not heard them. If there is a next time though, let's pack the place with local music fans and put to shame the shoppers who were just walking through.