By Leland Smith
Blue October draped a dark aura of intrigue and excitement over the standing-room-only crowd Friday night at the Alaska State Fair’s Borealis Theater. Casting the spell of a teen horror flick screenplay with the sound effects of a vintage Halloween record at times, the Houston Quintet performed tightly crafted songs with lacerating lyrics that seem to reflect the haunted psyche of America’s youth.
In one of the classiest moves I have witnessed from a new entertainer in years, front man Justin Furstenfeld in black tie, warmly and sincerely thanked the crowd in advance for their attendance. The audience was visibly moved and instantly felt at home.
Leaping into “You Make Me Smile,” from the powerhouse release “Foiled” to the grind-core anthem, “She’s my Ride Home,” Furstenfeld, alternated, often I the same song, between singing gentle lullabies and ballads to snarling and growling like an angry lion.
Blend the vocal styles Peter Gabriel, Curt Cobain, Bob Marley, and three parts original Furstenfeld and you are in the ballpark of understanding his cutting-edge and emotionally charged vocal style. Likewise, Blue October, exhibits great respect for previous artists of all genres, often drawing on the motifs and sonic concepts of artists ranging from Pink Floyd to Sonic Youth. Thankfully, Furstenfeld has eliminated any trace of English accent, a common tragic plague to alternative music.
Flowering into the passionate “Let it Go,” an almost Bluesy October, showed their romantic colors with lavish vocal harmonies and sculpted sheets of sound created by violin and guitar washes.
The adorable homage to body piercing “ I Drilled a Wire Through My Cheek,” and the alarming “Somebody” followed, pushing the audience to electric heights with intense distortion and sexually charged lyrics.
Closing rapid-fire with sapphire bullets “Into the Ocean,” "Libby Unlisted” and the epic “Hate Me” found the satisfied crowd dancing and singing along to every word.
Blue October is poised and ready for world domination. The band has truly crafted works of art with a fantastic live sound and presentation. I believe they are the soundtrack for the life and times of a new generation. Though there was something for everyone in the all-age crowd. It is somehow reassuring that the kids that attended the fair show, will one day have ghost memories of songs like “Hate Me” and be reminded of their feelings for the loved ones they were with.
Folks, It is dumb to rush the stage. You may feel like a shining star, but you are really just a shining idiot. Performing artists are involved in what they are doing and cannot often see you before you clip them. They have families and other shows to do so injury and cancellations are not options for them.
For the record, Blue October allows the free recording of their live concerts. That was in conflict with the posted fair policy at the Borealis entrance. In addition, several folks feel the show time of 7:00 pm is a tough deadline for the Anchorage commute.
Sorry for the delay of posting this review folks, technical problems.
I invite you to share your thoughts, comments, observations and corrections.
provided below is a set list from the show-LS
1) You Make Me Smile
2) She’s My Ride Home
4) Calling You
5) What If We Could
6) Sound of Pulling Heaven Down
7) Let it Go
8) Chameleon Boy
9) I Drilled a Wire through My Cheek
11) Come in Closer
12) Into the Ocean
13) X Amount of Words
1) 18th Floor Balcony
2) Libby Unlisted
3) Hate Me