Concert Review: Samantha Crain in Salt Lake City

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Should it be the fact that she went out of her way to grant an interview? That during the interview, she was so down to earth that I couldn’t help but feel like we had known each other for years instead of mere minutes? How about the fact that this tiny little spitfire put on a show that kept people coming on to the floor immediately in front of the stage?

Where to start …

I guess I’ll just go in chronological order. At this point, it seems to make the most sense.

First off, I should mention that this is going to be a two-parter post: The concert review, and the discussion/interview we had. Again … damn. They really don’t come any more laid back than she.

So concert review. Here it is, from the top.

The venue was The Urban Lounge. I hadn’t been to a show there, so I did some poking around. Not a lot of favorable reviews, sadly. Even my friend in Colorado who had been to a show couldn’t think of a good thing to say. “It’s hot, AC sucks, sound system sucks … not my favorite place for a concert.” For all the reviews I read and all the dialog about the place I had had, I can’t help but say this: y’all are wrong. Okay … not about the AC. It was really warm in there. However, the intimacy of the venue trumps pretty much everything. The stage is tiny. The dance floor is tiny. Actually, the whole venue is tiny. It’s only designed to hold about 300 people, and there were possibly 200 people there last night. Very, very intimate place for a show. And I *loved* it. Our “seats” were bar stools on the fringe of the dance floor. I could have thrown a feather and hit the stage (if that feather were tied to a tiny pebble, or maybe a wad of semi-compacted paper).That’s how close the seats were.

My intent was to take pics and video the whole show. Both were accomplished, but not in the manner I had anticipated. I was hoping that I could just prop up my phone and record the show. That was tossed out within the first 2 minutes of the first song as everyone rushed the stage and staked their claim to band proximity. Hey … who am I to complain? Newbie to the venue, rules already well-established … who am I to demand a straight shot at the stage? No … I adapted and made the best of my newly acquired understanding of how the vibe works there. I held my phone aloft for all 10 songs (11, if you want to count the Britney Spears tribute for Will), and it looks great. Even better than I had planned. Lots of crowd interaction, lots of needing to maneuver to get a better angle because of the crowd … all of whom were awesomely enthusiastic to be there for Samantha, Penny and Anne.

Samantha opened her set with “Lions,” off her newest CD You (Understood). The first thing I noticed, and I love this about an artist, is that she sounds even better live than she does on her CDs. This takes NOTHING away from her studio performances, but man … the girl can rock out. And rock out she did. She danced and stomped around the stage with her guitar, threw her head back and let the moment sink in, never missing a note or a beat. Her feet were constantly moving. Her music and moves were of one mind. And her smile! What a genuinely awesome smile she has. Her music and love for it is so sincere that she cannot keep from smiling while she’s playing. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. The passion she displays for her art and for making sure the fans get everything out of her show that she can offer are the only things she’s worried about while on stage.

She’s also aligned herself with Penny Hill (bassist) and Anne Lillis (drummer). They equally throw themselves into the moment. Anne set my “wow” factor for drummers to an all-time high. Just … WOW. One quick note from the interview: Penny and Anne were on another couch while I chatted with Samantha. Very unassuming, quiet, and low-key. Yah … that was all left in the green room once the show started. Anne took her sticks, and with fluidity like I’ve never seen, she began pounding away in anthemic rhythm. She was Niagara Falls, flowing relentlessly and careening over the edge in one million gallons of pure drumming, crashing down upon her drumset with unbridled passion. Penny, the bassist, matched Anne pace for pace in her energy, constantly bouncing around the stage and enjoying every minute, her fingers flying up and down the frets as she sweetly and crooningly sang harmony and back-up. MOST excellent.

Their energy and playing was infectious, which the crowd obviously picked up on this vibe cuz the floor kept filling up with each passing minute, all longing to be part of that energy. And let’s face it … who wouldn’t want to be part of that energy?

On the next song, “Songs in the Night,” Samantha traded in the mini-guitar solo opening for a kazoo solo.  I don’t know if the guys next to us were digging or making fun of it, but we loved it. Practically no one uses a kazoo anymore, but it fit so perfectly with the intro that going back and listening to the studio track almost seems … incomplete? This is the magic of Samantha Crain–“Surprise! Here’s a kazoo intro. Didn’t see that coming, did ya?!” Love it!

Here’s the entire set list from the show:

  • Lions
  • Songs in the Night
  • Equinox
  • Holdin’ that Move
  • New Song (not sure what it was called … something about convertibles)
  • Scissor Tales
  • Get the Fever Out
  • Religious Winds
  • Two-Sidedness
  • Toxic (Britney Spears cover, tribute to Will)
  • Up on the Table

Here are some pics from the show.

 

Videos of the show can be found on my YouTube channel.

For supposedly being an “opening act” for Langhorne Slim, she got the crowd on their feet and kept them there until well after the last note. After the show, I made it a point to get her attention before we left so that I could once again thank her for her time earlier in the evening for the interview and for such a spectacular show. What ended the night on such a personal high note was the huge, glowing smile that greeted me. I’m telling you … the girl has class. She knows how to make people happy, which is simply by being her good-natured self. I’ll get more into it when I write about the interview/conversation, but for now, just know that she is as geniunely friendly and kind a person as you can imagine, and my life is better for having met her.

Samantha Crain, thank you. 🙂

2 Comments

  1. I’m glad you had a good time! I still say it’s a horrible venue – I like to hear a band when I see them. So unless they’ve improved the sound system there since I moved away, I think tickets are overpriced. Sure, you get intimacy, but there are tons of clubs here in Denver that are equally small with great intimacy and a good sound system. So yeah, still not a fan 🙂


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  2. I really can’t complain too much about the sound. A lot of it might have to do with the acoustics of the room itself, but honestly, I could hear everything–drums, guitar, bass, vocals … it sounded pretty great. Not to mention that this particular show was $10, and it’s one of the more expensive shows coming through there. However, I absolutely will acquiece to your point about the heat. Wow. Every now and then, the AC kicked in and blew a bit of relief across the sweltering crowd, but other than that, it was stifling. Probably due to the proximity of the stage light, I would bet. Either that or the shows themselves are just that hot, and yah–this show was!


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