done a lot of traveling and seen a lot of music over the last few weeks, and my first time seeing the chris robinson brotherhood at the press room in phoenix on june 24th was definitely a highlight. the video above is the only one i could find from the show- slim harpo’s “i got love if you want it.”
they opened with one of my favorite covers, “let’s go let’s go let’s go.” that one’s gotten me out of a few mental jams and away from the rabbit hole in the past and always feels like a safe place so seeing that as my first tune was a perfect start. i’m still waiting for them to release the soundboard so besides going through the setlist i don’t remember most of the specific musical highlights other than the whole show being a lot of fun and exactly what i needed on a random tuesday night in the phoenix summer.
i had only heard their studio albums 1-2 times each besides lglglg so i was unfamiliar with a lot of their material and didn’t have any expectations about what kind of show it was going to be. their style is kind a bluesy and improvised americana sound, and a lot of the songs have a jaunty tennessee jed thing happening. they definitely jam and take it out there, but they also slow the pace down more often than i had anticipated. all of which was a nice surprise, and i can’t recommend seeing them enough. for a band and a group of individual musicians that’s been around as long as these guys have, it’s incredible that they’re playing 120+ shows a year. that’s some serious road warrior shit (take notes phish).
as for the crowd, they/we were hit and miss throughout the night, and i could tell the band felt it onstage, though they still came out and put on a hell of a show and made a huge effort to get everyone involved. i know i was taking it easy with the drinking and recreationals as i had to work early the next day, and that seemed to be the case with the majority of other people who were there. bring them back on a thursday, friday or saturday and i think they get a more aggressive welcome and response. but again, crb played their asses off and the second set definitely jumpstarted the crowd. everyone felt a little looser and i think it will reflect in the music, whenever it’s released.
another thing i loved is their stage setup. there were two flags draped behind them, not really sure what they are but they gave the whole thing an old school, 70s bar band or garage rock aesthetic, which i lapped up like the custie i am. the stage felt like the grateful dead nye 78 winterland show with drinks and solo cups everywhere, crew members walking around and some other shadow activity between songs that lent an additional retro feel to the evening.
the press room itself is an awesome place and i hope it turns into the valley’s version of flagstaff’s orpheum. plenty of space, great sound, clean bathrooms and ample air conditioning; this is a venue i really want to see take advantage of the bands that come through here. they could use more efficient beer/booze vending but i’m sure they’ll catch up with that need as they see how popular it becomes. and i’m always surprised how dead the city is at night- yes it was 11pm on a tuesday in june but that would have been the case if it was a saturday in october. though i think it’s slowly changing, and having a place like the press room is a good way to start.