Every summer WTMD, Baltimore’s NPR music station out of Towson University, sponsors free concerts in the park by Baltimore’s Washington Monument on the first Thursday of each month. Last night was the first one of the 2013 season. It was also the first one I have ever been to. Thursday nights are my regular night to work the late shift on the reference desk at the library, so I have been unable to go in the past. Most years the bands are more local and less well known bands that I have never heard of, so I haven’t bothered taking off work to go. However, when I heard the lineup for last night’s concert I made sure that I could get out of work to go.
The concert last night featured Bobby Long (who I like), The Great American Canyon Band (who I don’t really know), and The Lone Bellow (who I love). The music was great and the weather was perfect. I can’t say much for the rest of the set up though. I understand that the popularity of these concerts has grown over the years and WTMD definitely upped their game with the bands that were playing last night and having never been before I can’t really say how the crowd compared to other years but I suspect it might be slightly larger than in the past. At any rate it was really too many people in my opinion and the biggest problem was the speaker set up. They only had a couple of speakers up at the front by the stage, so if you weren’t in the front section of the park you couldn’t really hear the music and even when up front it was hard to hear the bands when they were just talking and not playing music.
My other problem I admit is just my own. If you have been reading this blog at all in the past you know I am very into music, and as I mentioned I was very excited to see this concert so that is what I was there for. I gather most people were not there for that reason. They were there to enjoy a nice night hanging out with friends with some live music in the background. Most of them were not paying much attention to the bands and I heard a number of people asking who was playing because they really liked the band when The Lone Bellow were on. So I guess good for The Lone Bellow in perhaps picking up some new fans, but bad for someone who was already a fan and was a having a hard time watching everyone not really pay attention to the bands on stage. Seriously the biggest cheer of the night came from a crowd up people trying to get a beach ball out of a tree when it got stuck up there.
Anyway, as I said the music itself (or what I got to hear of it) was great. I got there earlier than most of my friends and grabbed a little spot off to the side but up near the front and listened to Bobby Long. I enjoyed his short set and wouldn’t mind seeing him play again in a different sort of venue. After his set ended I found out that one of my friends had already staked out a spot elsewhere in the park, so I found her and then the rest of our friends showed up. Unfortunately, this spot was near the back of the park, which would have been completely fine with me if one could have heard the music at all from there. Sadly you couldn’t really. There was the faintest sound of music so that you could kind of tell someone was on stage, but that was about it. They really needed to set speakers up on the back side of the square as well.
Aside from hearing something about The Great American Canyon band on NPR music at some point and learning that they are a Baltimore based band, I didn’t really know anything about them or their music. As I mentioned at that point I couldn’t hear anything coming from the stage where we sitting so I still don’t.
When The Lone Bellow came on I told my friends I was moving up closer to the stage. I came to see The Lone Bellow and I wasn’t going to stay sitting there where I couldn’t actually hear them. Everyone decided to come with me so we made our way much closer to the front and became the annoying people I hate at a concert who decide to shove their way up front when the band comes on in front of all the people who were there early to stake out their spots. I hate those people and had I been able to hear from where I was I never would have been one of them. So sorry people around me. I’m usually not that rude at concerts.
The Lone Bellow was fantastic though. They put on a great show. As they said they only have one album out right now and they had to play for 90 minutes so they played everything off the album and then filled with some covers, a couple new songs, and were just having fun. The new songs were great and I was highly amused that this folk rock band played covers of Brian McKnight’s One and Mariah Carey’s Always Be My Baby. I love when bands get silly with their cover songs and go cross genre. They had the crowd up and dancing with their own music by the end with their upbeat rhythms. I can’t wait to see them again in July at The Newport Folk Festival. I briefly contemplated going to see them and Brandi Carlile at Wolf Trap the Wednesday before we leave on that trip, but I’m also seeing Dawes in concert that Tuesday night and thought it might be a little excessive. Though having now seen both of those acts live I can tell you that will be one amazing concert.
Here’s a couple of photos from the concert last night. That would be Baltimore’s Washington Monument in the background of the stage, and I might add the original Washington Monument. We always feel compelled to throw that in there to make sure people know we have that over DC. There’s also a couple of videos from last night, which I did not take, of The Lone Bellow singing their first single and current hit You Never Need Nobody, which I wrote about on this blog once before and Bleeding Out, which is one of my favorite songs from the album.