Counting Crows – ACL Live – Austin, TX 10/7/15 (SHOW REVIEW)

Photo via ACL Live Twitter

On Wednesday night, Counting Crows brought their Somewhere Under Wonderland tour to The Moody Theater and, as always, Adam Duritz brought hand-picked bands to open for them. Duritz has always lent a helping hand to up-and-coming musicians. The past couple of years have seen The Outlaw Roadshow at SXSW where Adam and music-blogger Ryan Spaulding showcase musicians that they want the world to hear. Recently, Counting Crows have instituted taking some of these bands on the road with them and, in the case of Hollis Brown, for good reason.

Hollis Brown, a five-piece rock band from NYC, started things off on a high note with their own brand of rock. Those that showed up early were treated to a blend of country, blues and rock that all came together to create that timeless sound that makes you want to stop and listen. Most of their set consisted of new material from their recently released album 3 Shots. Songs like “3 Shots” and “Sweet Tooth” showed off their more upbeat blues-rock side, while songs like “Wait For Me, Virginia” had a hint of country and excellent three-part harmonies. When you name your band after a Bob Dylan song than you had better bring it, and Hollis Brown did not disappoint.

A Counting Crows concert is always fun and unpredictable. Since their start in the early nineties, Counting Crows have always been primarily a live band. Though their studio albums provide a medium for the public to experience their music, a live show is where they truly shine. Whether it’s Adam Duritz’s charismatic showmanship or adding in extra verses and sometime completely other songs into a performance, each show is different from any other. After opening the set with “Round Here” and following it by the new song “Elvis Went To Hollywood,” they launched into their biggest single “Mr. Jones”. Pulling a move like this shows that they know that their audience is not just there to hear that one song from twenty years ago, but that they are actually fans of the band. Throughout the night, older songs like “Omaha” and “Rain King” were interspersed with new songs like “Johnny Appleseed’s Lament” and “Cover Up The Sun”. Though the new songs lack some the same angst and poetry of the first three albums, it would be selfish to want a songwriter to remain in misery for the sake of better songwriting. The new songs are catchy and have much happier overtones.

The last studio album by Counting Crows was Underwater Sunshine (or What We Did On Our Summer Vacation), which is a collection of cover songs by singers and bands that they admire. The night predictably contained a fair amount of covers. “Like Teenage Gravity” by Kasey Anderson shows their admiration of smaller, contemporary artists, where “Start Again” by Teenage Fanclub is more a tribute to their influences. “Goodnight Elisabeth” got a full cover of Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes” sandwiched in-between verses. The main set closed with “A Long December” and the encore of “Rain King” and “Holiday in Spain” brought the show to a close.

Counting Crows Setlist The Moody Theater, Austin, TX, USA 2015, Somewhere Under Wonderland World Tour

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