Ritter rocked his own face off

I’m not really sure what that phrase means “you rock my face off” but someone once put it on our band’s website and then I started hearing it and the next thing you know, it becomes a title.  This is how revolutions start people!

Anyway, this past week, my guitarist, Tom, and I ventured southeast to catch a show by a group we had not seen in six years.  I’ll get into that in a future post.  This one is about the opener/co-headliner.  I’ve been on all sides of a music bill.  We’ve been the opening act, the closing act, the middle act, the third of seven, etc.  As the opening act, you didn’t want to upstage the headliner and as the headliner, you were at times upstaged by the opener.  Of course, when you play a club that doesn’t have a built in crowd, you tip your hat to any band that brings in people whether they sound good or not.  The way to get around the potential pride issue is to co-headline. 

Josh Ritter coheadlined last Wednesday at the Haunt in Ithaca and rocked the place.  I had never heard the guy.  I only knew he was playing because I wanted to see the other coheadliner.  I’m not sure the capacity at the Haunt (certainly more at their current location than when I was an undergrad and used to darken the door of their past place) but we had to have been pretty close.  Tom and I found a good spot on the left side facing the stage near Josh’s keyboard player and drummer about 45 minutes before they went on.  Some quick conversations in the front told me that group in front was there to see Josh.  Plain and simple, they were ready.  I figured if this many people know his stuff, we’re probably in for a treat.  The band came out on stage in order, drummer first, keyboard, Josh, lead guitar and bass.  Okay, I don’t know the name of the guys and didn’t feel like looking them up.  They were introduced by Josh as “my amazing band”.  In fact everything was amazing or incredible to him.  “Ithaca…why have we not played here before.  This place is amazing, you guys are incredible.”  I’m paraphrasing of course.  Suits were the garb of choice and I was happy to see the drummer was not made to wear a suit coat.  He elected the dress shirt with sleeves rolled and vest (not sweater vest) to hold in the tie.  I can appreciate that.  Last time I tried to play in a suit, my sticks kept getting caught in the jacket sleeves.  That lasted all of two songs and only made it through the second because the first went right into the second. 

This guy, Josh Ritter, had a smile on his face from the time he walked up onto the stage through when he sat in on the last tune of the co-headliner to end the night.  He did not stop smiling.  Song after song was played with an energy that was truly joyful.  That may sound corny as anything but you had to see this guy.  He was happy to play for the crowd, his band was happy to play along with him and the crowd was happy to sing note for note.  I had no idea of any of the songs but certainly bounced and swayed along with the others who were vocalizing as only fans can (slightly flat with heads tilted to the stage).  “Thank you” was most of his banter with the audience other than accolades on the people and place.  Oh, and one apology when he messed up the opening lyrics to a song prompting a quick break to remove his jacket and tie.  The guy had a Buddy Holly bounce, Bob Dylan grasp of lyrics and a bit of a Matthew Sweet vibe (yeah, remember him?).  We all dug it.  Good energy is damn contagious.


One Response to “Ritter rocked his own face off”

  1. chasing gomez with alcohol « Building a better drumset Says:

    […] may have already read my review of Josh Ritter, the opening band.  He only stole the show for the people who came to see him.  […]

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