Just about everyone has that one band that they really like, but keep secret from their friends and family, fearing ridicule. It might be the tattooed biker with a penchant for Enya, or a seemingly mild-mannered old lady that secretly listens to metal guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen. I'm actually one of the folks immune to this phenomena. I listen to what I like, no matter how much the band or singer in question might affect my social standing or reputation. One of the bands that would be on my list, if I actually cared to compile one that is, would have to be Hall & Oates. "But wait," you might say. "Hall & Oates is a pretty hot act right now." Sure, with the inclusion of "You Make My Dreams Come True" in the film 500 Days of Summer and appearances on shows such as The Voice and Dancing with the Stars, it seems life is good for songwriters Daryl Hall and John Oates. The band has always had its detractors, as any act does. Many knock them for writing catchy pop songs about girls and love and the like. In my opinion, the folks that do knock great bands like Hall & Oates are the same kind of people who listen to Sufjan Stevens just so they can drop the name "Sufjan" into everyday conversation.
Now before all you hipster doofus types get all bent out of shape, there's nothing wrong with the music of Sufjan Stevens, so long as you actually listen to it before you talk about it.
But I digress...
I prefer to wear my Hall & Oates fan patch with pride. I've been listening to the band since I first heard "Private Eyes"on the radio as a kid, and all through the 80s I enjoyed the long string of hits that were released by the songwriting duo. To me, you can't make a list of the great American songwriters of the last half-century and not include Daryl Hall and John Oates. So I heard they would be playing the North Charleston Performing Arts Center a few months back, I made plans to be there. To be honest, I was a bit worried that the turnout for the show would be like that of another great singer-songwriter who played the venue; Lindsay Buckingham. That show found the PAC only half-full, despite Buckingham's background as a member of Fleetwood Mac. Once I got to the PAC this past Wednesday night though, my fears vanished. The place was packed. Turns out, the show was sold out.
When the band hit the stage just after 8 p.m. (no opening band) and launched into "Out of Touch," the crowd exploded and started singing along. Over the course of the next 90 minutes, Hall & Oates did what they've come to be known for; giving the people what they want musically. From deep cuts from early in their careers like "How Does It Feel To Be Back" and "Las Vegas Turnaround," to well-known radio hits such as "Maneater" and "You Make My Dreams," the guys basically covered it all. I will admit that I was a bit worried when the band ended its main set after just nine songs, but the musicians came back out for two encores resulting in five more tunes, including a cover of "Jingle Bell Rock," complete with the 80s-era video playing on the screen behind them. The show was everything I was expecting, and I didn't talk to a single person in the lobby afterward that felt differently. Word on the street is that Hall has either rented or bought a house in downtown Charleston, and will be spending some quality time in the Holy City. Here's hoping he is able to get out and sample some of Charleston's rich music scene. He'll probably like what he hears.
The night after Hall & Oates show at the PAC I found myself next door at the North Charleston Coliseum, attending the concert by Eric Church. To be perfectly honest, I didn't really know a lot about Church going in. I'm not a huge modern country fan, mostly because the majority of what's called country these days is actually pop music with a little twang thrown in. Again, nothing wrong with that sound for the people that dig it, but I just don't happen to be one of them. As it turns out, Church is one of the current rising superstars in the country music world. Once again, the crowd seemed to be at capacity, and there was much hootin' and hollerin' going on. As much as I'm not a fan of modern country music, I actually like going to concerts by modern country artists. The fans of these performers are some of the most faithful and enthusiastic fans out there. They buy the CDs, go to the shows, buy the merchandise, and support their favorite artists way more enthusiastically than other music fans. I've also found that a large contingent of them seem to binge-drink at shows more than your average rock or R&B fan (more on that in a moment...)
I arrived at the Coliseum a little late, and as a result of some pretty heavy security, I missed the opener, Kip Moore. I guess Moore was really the opener for the opener, though. Justin Moore was up next. Another fast rising star in the country world, Moore turned in a satisfying set of songs, and seemed to play well of the energy of the crowd. When it was finally time for the headliner, I honestly had no idea what to expect. My friend Kim had come with me to the show, and being a big Eric Church fan, she advised me it was going to be a good show. He certainly made a big entrance, emerging from a hidden staircase in the floor of the stage while a giant curtain dropped to reveal a multilevel stage decorated with wood and beer kegs.
I have to say that it only took a couple of songs for me to get into the groove. Church is one of those outlaw country artists who has no problem blurring the lines between country and rock. In addition to the music, much of which was actually agreeable to this modern country music hater, there were some pretty incredible production values being displayed on the stage. If there was a country fan at the show Thursday night that hadn't ever experienced a concert with pyrotechnics, lasers, backlight, or any of the stuff normally reserved for the likes of KISS, then they experienced it all Thursday night. It was overall a great show that renewed my faith in pop-country music.
During the show I was seated in the upper section of the Coliseum, about two rows down from the ceiling. Toward the end of the show, random fights and scuffles began breaking out in a group of 20-something guys a couple rows before me. They were all clearly drunk, and eventually the North Chuck Police had to be called in to restore order. Now, I'm all for enjoying a beer or two at a show, but if you're at a show that you've presumably paid a few bucks for, and you choose to spend the evening fighting, puking, or passed out in a seat, then why not just stay home next time? I saw a couple of other women on the same row as the troublemakers who had to move or risk getting caught in the middle of a shoving match. That's not what we came to see.