Friday night I saw The Lone Bellow in concert for the 1, 2, 3, 4th time this year. I would say I have a problem, but if you have ever seen them live then you know how great it is and why you would go every chance you got. This time the concert was at Baltimore Soundstage. It’s a fairly new concert venue in Baltimore. It’s probably a couple years old at this point, but it’s the first time I have ever seen a show there. It was odd.
I’m sure it would be completely normal seeming if you there there for a standing room only show. However, some of their shows they do as seated shows, and this concert was one of them. The lower seating area in the front you are seated at rectangular tables for 4 that are set up at a 90 degree angle to the stage so that people seated on both sides of the table can kind of turn sideways and see the stage. The way these tickets are sold is weird as well as you basically have to buy either a full table or a half a table you can’t just buy individual tickets. The price of the table also includes some sort of food credit as well. It’s definitely not something I’ve ever seen done at a concert venue before
As I was going with 2 friends and there were only 3 of us that didn’t really work for us so we bought the cheaper seats in the back of the venue, which are just individual rows of chairs set up more like you would expect. We were some of the first people to enter the venue when the doors opened so they actually offered to seat us at one of the tables that hadn’t sold. After checking that we weren’t required to order some kind of minimum of food at the tables since had already eaten dinner we took them up on the offer.
There were some good things about the arrangement. My old self got to have a chair to sit in, and it meant I wasn’t being blocked by some super tall person which is generally what winds up happening to me at SRO shows. For some reason it also seemed to inspire people not to break out their phones to take pictures and videos, which I appreciate. I am more than happy for you to take a picture or 2, but I feel like these days I spend half of every concert staring at it through other people’s cell phone screens as they take ridiculous numbers of pictures and videos. For some reason that didn’t happen at this show, so maybe it was the seating style that kept people from doing it?
There were also bad things about the arrangement. It was not conducive to getting up to dance at all, which if you know The Lone Bellow’s music seems crazy because so much of their stuff inspires you to move. Seated shows definitely have less energy than SRO shows. Also the table arrangement made it more like being in a restaurant which I felt like made people more inclined to talk to each other through the show. I hate that. I didn’t come here to listen to you talk. I came here to listen to the music. The whole thing just felt like a weird arrangement.
Anyway, on to the show itself. The opening act was someone named Greg Holden, who I was not familiar with prior to this concert. He’s a British singer. I actually enjoyed his music. I always like when I wind up finding new music that I like through opening acts I didn’t know before. He kind of amused me because he was trying so hard to get the crowd into his set, which I mean good on him, but it was a little sad that the crowd wasn’t really responding to his banter. Partly I think because he was the opening act and most people just don’t care and partly because of the aforementioned lack of energy from everyone just sitting there.
I’m not entirely sure he even played this song, but it’s what I could find on YouTube so here you go.
The Lone Bellow of course were fantastic. There were some amusing stage mishaps. During the first song I’m not entirely sure what happened. Brian I think tripped over a mic cord or misjudged the size of the stage or something and completely fell off the stage. Then later Zach was goofing around while tuning his guitar between songs and whacked himself in the face with his mic. All part of the fun of live shows. They played everything off their album plus a couple of covers and a couple of new songs, which makes me look forward to whenever they put out a second album. They also commented about the last time they were in Baltimore over the summer for WTMD’s First Thursdays concert and were also incredulous about the poor speaker set up for it, which you will recall I also have complained about. Hey WTMD if the bands you’re bringing in find your setup lacking then perhaps you need to up your game this coming summer. Get on it.
I’ve actually seen more and more bands doing this these days, but I read an interview with The Lone Bellow in the Baltimore Sun a few days before the concert in which they were mentioned being out on tour with Brandi Carlile and the fact that she would bring them back out on stage to play with her at the end of her set. They said it’s not something you see that often and they loved and it’s something they want to do with their openers, so I was not at all surprised to see them bring Greg Holden out on the stage for their final number. This is the song they played for their encore. It’s one of my favorite songs from the album. I’m already looking forward the fifth time I get to them at some point in the future.