NOTE: For a review of the 25 Miserable Years Tour click here.
A rather lazy crowd greeted the Gin Blossoms first show of 2015 on Friday at the Snoqualmie Casino in Snoqualmie, WA where the band played a 16-song, 90 minute set in front of about 600 people.
A large portion of those in attendance remained seated for much of the concert including folks in the front rows which even singer Robin Wilson tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to get to their feet throughout the course of the show.
Granted Gin Blossoms’ music isn’t hard-charging rock but, hey, it’s still the Gin Blossoms.
The band from Tempe, AZ opened with “Follow You Down” from 1996’s Congratulations I’m Sorry and tapped into their latest album No Chocolate Cake, now more than four years old, with “Somewhere Tonight” and “Miss Disarray” during which the audience took to the seats and stuck a lot of the show’s energy under their chairs.
Wilson brought the acoustic out for “As Long As it Matters” but guitarist Jesse Valenzuela stole the spotlight on this one with some great soloing. The always fantastic “Found Out About You” from their multi-platinum New Miserable Experience brought the crowd back to its feet which solicited Wilson’s first comment about the audience mailing in their excitement.
The anguishing “Until I Fall Away” displayed Wilson’s heartbreaking vocals at their finest but the pace proved too slow for this audience to stand. “Learning the Hard Way,” one of many gems off of 2006’s Major Lodge Victory, but sadly the only tract played from the album, brought another rocking Valenzuela solo and a solid jam from everyone on stage. The band returned to their breakthrough album with “Lost Horizons” and “Allison Road” before stringing off three straight from No Chocolate Cake starting with the upbeat, but a bit silly, “Dead or Alive on the 405” which even Wilson said at the end, “I don’t understand the meaning of that song.”
Wilson finally managed to get the crowd back on their feet with the fun “I’m Ready” but it didn’t last long once “Wave Bye Bye” got going despite more great vocals. The band closed out the set with “Till I Hear It From You” and the always popular “Hey Jealousy” one of maybe three songs the band still gets airplay on local radio. The encore included “29” and the cover “A Million Miles Away.”
Overall, it was a solid set and the band played well. Wilson’s vocals were sharp. Their newest drummer Scott Hessel, who joined in 2012 and looks a lot like Dave Grohl, pounded out some good rhythms. Valenzuela and guitarist Scott Johnson compliment each other well and trade off performing solos.
But, the audience doesn’t deserve all the blame for their lackadaisical temperament. The Gin Blossoms seem content on squeezing as much as they can with their singles and a handful of other songs from the past. They showcased no new music which isn’t much of a surprise since Valenzuela said in an interview a while back that he’d be happy to record a single here and there and just play live shows for the next 20 years.
The band is planning a summer tour with other notable acts from the 1990s like Toad the Wet Sprocket and Smashmouth as they’ve done the last few years but for the most part hop around the country playing small venues. Two years ago at Spirit Mountain in Oregon in a venue twice the size and a whole lot more people, the band seemed on the cusp of regaining some of their 90s magic and popularity. This time around it was hardly a sell-out.
However, if they want to be a touring band, a la REO Speedwagon and Styx, it would do them well to at least release a few more albums. Sure, their catalogue of work holds up for a 90 minute show but they clearly have the energy to play and youth is on their side to release a few more LPs. Valenzuela seems ready to bust out some hard rock chords at a given notice and even Bill Leen, who seems oddly uncomfortable at times on stage, cranks out a pounding bass guitar.
Ironically, it was David Swafford, Wilson’s roommate when he was 20, who filled in for Leen on the final song, and provided some much-needed stage personality but to a cover song.
Gin Blossoms Setlist at Snoqualmie Casino
- Follow You Down
- Somewhere Tonight
- Miss Disarray
- As Long As it Matters
- Found Out About You
- Until I Fall Away
- Learning the Hard Way
- Lost Horizons
- Allison Road
- Dead or Alive on the 405
- I’m Ready
- Wave Bye Bye
- Till I Hear it From You
- Hey Jealousy
- A Million Miles Away