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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

old crow medicine show august 21 2013

Old Crow Medicine Show  |  Corona Theatre

FOOT STOMPS AND FIDDLES  |  KAIVA BRAMMANIS

Aug. 21, 2013 - Oh, the perils of the cell phone camera. This is a time when good views at shows are rare not because you’re stuck behind that one awkwardly tall person in the room (that would be six-foot-tall me – sorry), but because camera flashes and glowing screens occupy at least half of your field of vision at any given time. Most of us have, at one show or another, taken a picture or two, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But for many, going to a concert seems to mean seeing it through a lens. And for what – what comes of all those snaps, videos, pictures, instagrams that make it worth missing half the show? A shaky, muffled YouTube video labeled “LIVE!!!!” featuring That Guy In Front of You’s head at close range?

So when Old Crow Medicine Show takes the stage at Corona theatre, and everyone in the audience raises their hands, I’m surprised but happy to see not a single iPhone. People clap, cheer, and wave their hands around, but there are no phones, no cameras, and no technological apparatuses glimmering on the horizon. This crowd is ready to dance.

And they do dance. From the opening chords of “Carry Me Back,” the audience is constantly in motion. This is no room of music snobs too busy analyzing the tunes to commit to more than a head-nod or a mild sway. People leap around, jump up and down, and stomp their feet. Ear-to-ear grins are in abundance. I want to be carried back to Virginia, too, if it means I get to dance to fiddles all day long.
The audience isn’t the only one moving. The seven members of the band dance around the stage throughout the entire hour and a half. Mandolin player Cory Younts pulls on shades and does a rapid-fire jig across the front. Main vocalist Ketch Secor constantly moves to sing head-to-head with someone else. Even the upright bass player, Morgan Jahnig, dances across the stage. Yeah, you read that right – he doesn’t just pluck and sway, he picks up his instrument and shimmies his way across stage, without missing a beat.

It’s my second time seeing Old Crow live, and I can’t help but marvel at their enthusiasm. Yeah, it’s a good show if the music is good. But a truly great show has the ability to anchor you to the present moment so soundly that not a single other thought drifts across your mind. Old Crow tailors each concert to the location it plays in, striking familiar chords with the crowd. Before “Caroline,” Secor rambles through a long story involving a French country girl who drinks Boreale and has a license plate that reads Je me souviens. The set also includes an Acadian folk song. The crowd loves it.

The rest of the show is a whirlwind of banjo, fiddles, drums, and guitar. They play all the favourites, wailing through “Metamphetamine,” playing the requisite “Wagon Wheel,” and jumping into the mind-bogglingly speedy “Bootlegger’s Boy.” There’s an epic whistling line in one song. Another has some wild strumming from the banjo player, who somehow is also able to pull off two braids amazingly. These band members aren’t just tied to one instrument each, though. The instruments are constantly being picked up or tossed between the guys. Between all seven dudes, it’s an impressive array.

When Old Crow runs offstage after the last song, the audience has none of it. Everyone wants more. The foot stomping that has been present throughout the show escalates to a level that challenges the strength of the theatre’s floors. The exhilaration is still coursing through everyone’s veins. They want more. The stomping and cheering falls into a unified sound that echoes throughout the room. Old Crow emerges, grinning, and instead of picking up their instruments, they dance along to the audience’s stomps and singing. Finally, after a minute or two, when no one can take waiting any longer, they launch into their last few songs.

After a couple tunes of wild, uninhibited dancing, the band members drop all of their instruments. Joined by opener Daniel Romano, they gather around a microphone for the last song: a rendition of Stan Roger’s Barrett’s Privateers. For me, as with any Canadian, this was an incredible end to an incredible show. “I’m a broken man on a Halifax piiiiier,” they sing, and the audience’s excitement is impossible to contain.

When the Old Crow members stand at the front of the stage for a bow, arms draped around each other, grinning and laughing, no one is ready for the show to be over. People talk about rooms having positive energy; this one is overflowing with pure elation. Can we just do it all again?

So go see Old Crow Medicine Show. And then go see them again. And again. I know I will.

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