September 4, 2003

Soulive Survives

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Soulive — do you know who they are? I didn’t, not until I heard that they were doing a free show at Cornell the first Saturday after classes start. Well, not so much free meaning “We don’t have to pay them anything! Rejoice!” as “We pay them a lot of money, but just don’t charge the students.” Never again will I be able to say that I’ve never gotten anything free from Cornell. Damn, I really liked complaining about how stingy Cornell was. Well, there’s most of my daily conversation gone.

I discovered Soulive, with openers The Paranoid Social Club, were coming a little before the rest of the student body here at Cornell. How did I accomplish this prodigious task, one may ask? Simple, I laugh triumphantly: I am a member of Cornell Concert Commission, one of the largest student groups here at this prestigious University. I’m betting that most people know very little to nothing about this illustrious group that’s constantly working here at Cornell to put on good quality concerts and shows for the student body. We are the people who build that huge stage in Barton when there’s shows there, we make up the dressing rooms for the band and provide them with whatever their pampered little hearts desire (just kidding: band people rock, they’re very nice), we stand behind the barricade trying to look intimidating while we enjoy the show for free, you know, all that stuff. Plus, we get a shirt, which rocks. But I digress. This is a review of the Soulive show after all.

And now, a review of the music. Though I may not have been a Soulive fan before I saw the show, I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching them perform. The music was deep and bass heavy, thumping into my throat and pushing everything else away. Quite a few people in the audience seemed to have also gotten very involved in the music, dancing away like crazy, you know, the unconscious swaying that hippies do to soulful music. It was great. Of course, it might not have been just the music that provided the public with such a great time: I saw one kid walk by with a smoking water bottle. But hey, that could have just been regular tobacco smoke, right? It was a great set, and the turnout was excellent.

The opener, Paranoid Social Club, was a little more hard, banging out lots of guitar lines and quite the slew of lyrics. My favorite part of their set was when the lead singer gave a little inspirational monologue about being in college, citing in particular that even if you have braces, it’s okay, you’re still a member of the Paranoid Social Club. It would have been touching, if it weren’t so weird. They were a little late getting started, pushing back the 5pm time by about 45 minutes, but they did put on a great set. I also loved how in one song, aptly titled “Paranoid Social Club,” the singer tells us how everyone has a gun, even his ex-girlfriend. Makes me wonder if the band members have guns. I hope not.

Soulive was great, I really had fun bobbing my head to the music and forgetting everything except the noise that was pummelling me. The lack of lyrics (minus the last song, which was a sing-a-long), was quite nice and a fellow CCC member commented to me how she loved putting stuff like this on when she’s studying because there’s no words to distract her. It’s true; it was a very mellow and calming experience. Though, since there were no lyrics for most of the set, it was almost like I was listening to one continuous song. Not that this was a bad thing.

A ton of people showed up for the show, well over a thousand in my estimate, which was a heck of a lot more than were projected to show. It’s a strange feeling to actually be a success once in a while, so yay for everyone who came. During Paranoid Social Club set the crowd was content to lounge around on the ground, but everyone got to their feet for Soulive and danced right up against the barricade. I’d say it was a great show for welcome weekend. And I even picked up some free playing cards from the CU Tonight people walking around in the crowd, tossing them out to great applause.

Overall, it was a fabulous evening, enjoying music under the stars with good friends that I don’t get to see all that often. And what better way is there to spend time here on campus avoiding work?

Archived article by Sue Karp