October 12th, 2011

Loopster Live: Cowboy Mouth and Candlebox at Warehouse Live

In one of the crazier combos seen this year, Warehouse Live hosted Candlebox with Cowboy Mouth opening this past Friday.

Cowboy Mouth is the party side of swamp rock (Better Than Ezra being the corporate side). In the spirit of Dash Rip Rock, Mojo Nixon, Webb Wilder and The Beat Farmers, Fred LeBlanc and crew insist that you get on board the party bus or risk being run over.

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The Candlebox pairing made for an interesting mix in the crowd. In fact, a cross group of Candlebox fans caused Fred to threaten to cut short the set and just play “the hits” if the crowd participation didn’t improve. Failing to get the desired response, CM launched into a purposefully lack-luster version of “Jenny Says” that was just this side of a Muzak. Humor won over many holdouts and all was forgiven on both sides.

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Reminiscent of Country Dick of Beat Farmer’s fame, LeBlanc launched into the crowd to accost one hipster for being too cool to join in the fray. Although clearly in fun, the victim looked a bit anxious to be used as a chew toy by a rabid drummer twice his size and empowered with a portable bully pulpit.

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CM fans came equipped to throw their red plastic spoons (It’s an “Everybody Loves Jill” thing) and while outnumbered managed to make their presence known. Friday’s show was apparently the last opening for Candlebox on this tour, and as credit to the bond the two bands apparently formed on the road, Kevin Martin joined CM on stage for a cover of “Dancing Days” replete with a Robert Plant wig.

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Suitably warmed, Candlebox was greeted with the crowd’s warm response. Hailing from Seattle, Candlebox has unfairly been dismissed as grunge-light in the past — lazy labeling that also hampered The Posies once. Having been once subjected to “Cover Me” on auto-repeat for six hours (I call and raise your adventure in waterboarding as torture, Mr. Hitchens.), I had forgotten about Candlebox’s impressive string of harder songs. Four studio albums produced 10 “top 20” rock hits and as the percussive wave of guitar and drums hit, the expected cacophony, when contrasted to Cowboy Mouth, was replaced by the realization that Candlebox was just as eager to keep the party rolling.

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With little flash or theatrics (I’m talking to you Avenged Sevenfold), Candlebox performed a solid set of rock and roll that has seemingly been lost as album-oriented rock stations slip away onto satellite. I was impressed by the lack of pretencion and hope the tour helps get their latest album Into The Sun onto more music services (ahem, Rhapsody). While still not willing to count myself amongst their fans, a clearly dedicated lot, they certainly deserve a spot in rotation and a chance to convert.

— Alexander

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