The Hy-Vee Triathlon is this weekend, and the event’s activities were kicked off last night by a free concert at Des Moines City Hall. Hippy folksters, The River Monks started the show at 7p.m. The band brought a small, but loyal following to the show, and, despite some chronic ukulele problems, were able to play out their full set. The band readily admitted that they, like the crowd, were there to see the Gin Blossoms. The River Monks set was fairly tight, if slightly uninteresting at times.
The Gin Blossoms took the stage about a half-hour late at 8:45 p.m. This may have been due to the opener running long because of technical problems. The Gin Blossoms put on an extremely fan-friendly show. Lead singer Robin Wilson handed out tambourines to fans up front throughout the entire set and encouraged them to play along with the band. He also took time out to hi-five fans and talk with them. He even took one of the fan’s cell phones from their outstretched hand and talked to the person on the other end during the bridge of a song and then sang the next chorus into the mic and cell phone simultaneously, before handing the phone back.
While Wilson’s voice has lost a little of its strength and luster over the years, he and the band still put on a very tight show. The Blossoms played all their major hits, including “Follow You Down”, “Found Out About You”, “Until I Fall Away”, “Until I Hear It From You”, and “Hey Jealousy”, as well as a cover of the Eddie Money hit “Think I’m in Live”. The Gin Blossoms do not hop around a lot on stage or take turns playing long solos like some bands do. Instead, they focus on playing their songs just like you hear them on the radio, so that the fans can easily sing along. They do, occasionally, ask for crowd participation on songs, but not very often. This radio-quality sound endears them to many fans, but may turn off a few others who would like to see them show off a little more and put on more of a fancy show. Either way, the fans continue to welcome the Gin Blossoms back to Des Moines with open arms year after year. As Wilson stated near the end of the concert, whenever Des Moines has its next “drunken barn dance”, the Gin Blossoms will be back to play it.
All in all, the night was good one, despite the steamy 90-degree temperatures. (The band actually had to have their team dim their stage lights to reduce the heat for part of the set.) You can see photos of the two bands in action in the slideshow at the left.
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