Concert Review: Gin Blossoms – Salute to Service

Gin Blossoms Salute to Service concert

It wasn’t ideal, but I’ll take it.

Gin Blossoms highlighted the first ever “Salute to Service” concert on Sunday, live streamed free of charge, and hosted by Arizona State University to celebrate Veterans Day while honoring veterans and active duty service members.

It was far from a live concert broadcast online and not exactly on par with the pre-recorded Metallica Encore Drive-In Nights experience, but Gin Blossoms rolled out an enjoyable and quick paced 12 song set in about 40 minutes giving fans something to absorb while the country, bands and venues continue to juggle and find ways to exist during the coronavirus pandemic. Singer Robin Wilson held down the fort at his home studio in New York while the rest – guitarists Jesse Valenzuela and Scott Johnson, Bill Leen on bass and Scott Hessel on drums – played together in Arizona, the band’s home state.

Gin Blossoms Salute to Service Online Concert Review

Gin Blossoms opened with their classic “Allison Road,” closed with “Lost Horizons” and filled in the rest with most of their popular hits, primarily from their smash album New Miserable Experience, and a couple off their most recent album, 2018’s Mixed Reality. The five played together, no doubt, but after each song the screen cleared only to show the band ready to play the next one off the setlist. Wilson addressed the online audience just a few times (thanking them, recognizing the honor of playing for the Salute to Service) but considering it was pre-recorded, unlike his live YouTube shows, you could tell it probably felt, for him at least, a bit impractical. I’m not even sure he could see his bandmates but the split screen showing Wilson singing on the left and several rotating visual cuts of the other four on the right worked well and proved engaging for the audience.

Gin Blossoms singer Robin Wilson one the left and the rest of the band on the right during an online Salute to Service concert

Overall, Gin Blossoms played great together considering the effort needed to coordinate virtually and the audio was also solid, especially the guitars, drums and bass, while Wilson sounded muffled at times, ironically almost like he had a mask on, but mostly came through fine albeit some off key moments. The show started at 6 p.m. with about 20 minutes of ASU honoring and recognizing veterans before Gin Blossoms “took the stage.” No encore and after their final song the show cut back to more announcements from ASU.

The Gin Blossoms virtual concert comes at the start of ASU’s Nov. 5-15th Salute to Service campaign. As the son of an Army veteran, good on ASU and Gin Blossoms, and thanks to both, for taking the time to honor America and our veterans.

Gin Blossoms Salute to Service Setlist:

  1. Allison Road
  2. Angel’s Fly
  3. Competition Smile
  4. Face the Dark
  5. Follow You Down
  6. Found Out About You
  7. Still Some Room in Heaven
  8. Hey Jealousy
  9. Rita
  10. Till I Hear It From You
  11. Until I Fall Away
  12. Lost Horizons