Ezra Headliners Music Hall Louisville, KY December 18,
by HotBands writer Michael Mccammon
We, Like It
Now in 1998 and with the release of their third album in as many years, Better Than Ezra has once again proven to themselves and their fans that they intend to do what it takes to make themselves a successful and long standing band. The new album, How Does Your Garden Grow, finds BTE bringing in new influences from the so-called electronica scene. While many critics doubted that BTE could successfully add this new sound, the fans love it. Hearing the first single, One More Murder, (which can also be found on the X-Files soundtrack) rapidly put an end to any of the doubts that the critics had. BTE had perfectly merged the latest trend in music with their very guitar driven sound found on their previous two albums.
As Better Than Ezra comes to the end of their tour which began in August, I find myself once again lucky enough to attend one of thier shows. This time I had a chance to ask lead singer and the man responsible for the bands lyrics and a large part of thier overall sound, Kevin Griffin, a few questions about the new style and why they involve the crowds so much at thier performances.
MJM: With each album you have added a new twist to your sound. With How Does Your Garden Grow, you added a touch of the electronica sound. What is the purpose behind this new addition?
Kevin Griffin: Our other albums.......I was listening to music which was more guitar based. The past couple of years I have been listening to different types of music. Just like everybody else, when youre in a band you are not immune to being excited by certain trends. [I am] listening to different music, more textural music and more experimental stuff.
MJM: What are some of your influences in the electronic or experimental genre that you listen to and may influence you?
Kevin: I love the first Fatboy Slim album.....I have been listening to a lot of Bjork, DJ Shadow, Air and a lot of old 70s progressive like Eno, Pink Floyd and David Bowie. MJM: Do you feel that you need to add new sounds to continue to grow as a band?
Kevin: You have to continue to assimilate new influences in your band and your music to keep yourself excited, but also to remain relavant in a way. All the great bands who stood the test of time continue to reinvent themselves and bring new influences in, whether its The Rolling Stones, U2 or REM.
MJM: You guys include a lot of crowd interaction. Do you enjoy involving the crowd as much as you do?
Kevin: People enjoy it, we like having a good time and I have always liked shows that involve the audience. Making the crowd being an actual part of the show is a really great thing. Doing it in a new and refreshing way using a sampler and sampling peoples voices is something that hasnt been done. Other people will now do it, but we were the first!
Headliners Music Hall
Louisville, KY December 18, 1998:
The band wasted no time in getting the near sell-out crowd to their feet, by performing, what frontman Kevin Griffin called a work in progress, Good, from their debut album, Deluxe. As BTE continued on, playing all thier hits, the great mood of the band became more evident. At one point, as Kevin was introducing drummer Travis McNabb, the two of them decided to educate the crowd on the basic drum techniques. As Travis played a simple beat, Kevin pointed out that many classic rock songs were created using this technique as he performed short guitar solos from such artists as, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd.
During the performance of This Time of Year, from Deluxe, BTE became the first band to make their concert interactive. Informing the audience that BTE was going to take us into the 21st Century a year early, he picked up a sampler and headed out into the shoulder to shoulder crowd. Using the sampler, Kevin recorded two fans screaming their names. He then returned to the stage and turned their voices into something that you might hear from electronic artist Fatboy Slim, whom BTE covered for a few seconds before returning to finsh This Time of Year.
At one point, the bands road crew decided to play a small prank on the band to celebrate the ending of the tour by spraying canned string all over the stage and band members. The band responded by quickly performing I Get Knocked Down, by Chumbawumba. Another quick prank happened when another member of their road crew stormed the stage wearing an afro wig and began beating up the band members in fine karate film fashion with sound effects and all.
Even with all the additions and humor that the band added into the show, the music still shined. Highlights of the night were King of New Orleans, Murder of One, Under You and seemingly the bands favorite (bassist Tom Drummond gave it a 10 on a scale from 1 to 5) from their latest album, Happy Day MaMa. The band had one curtain call as singer Kevin Griffin was the first to emerge from backstage. He sat behind the keyboard and entertained the crowd to the Peanuts Gang theme. They capped the evening off by asking the crowd to jump and down so St. Nick would know where we were as they performed a perfect Desperately Wanting. The evening ended with a joyful Merry Christmas from the band to the very satisfied audience.
Once again, BTE have pulled off another great show that further increases my belief that they are one of the best live shows currently around. Kevin Griffin needs to recognized as one of the best frontmen in the music industry as he continues to please fans with his humor and ability to involve the crowd on a nighty basis. The bands music also continues to shine and I eagerly anticipate their next tour, because I will be there.
NOTE: All though they have finished thier tour, Better Than Ezra will join The New Radicals and Chris Issac in Chicago on New Years Eve for the House of Blues New Years Eve party. Sorry, all of the $150 tickets are sold out. However, if you are in the Chicago area, itll be broadcast live over the radio on 101.9 The Mix and on television on the local FOX affiliate.
Dewey Kincade & the Navigators: Excellent new band that just released its first cd a couple weeks ago. Somewhat of an alt-country band with a touch of Dave Mathews influence. Highly recommended!
Almost Noah: Guitar rock along the lines of Pearl Jam. There always seem to be rumours of record deals around this band. At this time, I do not know the truth behind them.
Big Head: Electronic pop act. Have been around for over 5 years now. It is becoming more and more difficult to see them perform in local town of Louisville as they tour the region reguarly. Somewhat of a cross of New Order and Stabbing Westward. Album called "Floppy." Highly recommended.
Supafuzz: Heavy pop band. Began in 1994. Check out their debut album, "Pretty Blank Page."