Monday, November 17, 2008

Wooten 6, Flecktones 4


Last night I rode my little city bike across the river and downtown in time for a 7 pm concert at the Tower Theatre. A lovely evening, cool and calm.  Chained my bike up right in front of the theater, picked up my ticket at will call and a glass of nice pinot noir in the lobby, and within 15 minutes of leaving my house, I was settled into my seat in the center of the theater, row D, to hear Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.

I just have three words to describe it: 

Victor. F#@king. Wooten. 

He's only one member of the four-man band, but to this Sears and Roebuck-grade bass player, he was 60% of the show. He does things on a bass that I didn't know were possible. He gets sounds out of a bass that I've never heard before. He's a rock-solid accompanist with metronomic timing and endlessly inventive bass lines. He makes the impossible look matter-of-factly easy. 

I'm not dissing the other Flecktones, oh no! I bet that the banjo players in the audience were similarly blown away by Bela's playing, that the woodwind players had their socks knocked off by Jeff Coffin's saxamaphoning and transverse fluting, and only the best drummers may have grasped the skill, variety and monstrosity of Futureman's playing. 

But Victor was the reason I went to the concert. I can't speak for what the other members of the nearly fully house of men and women ranging in age from mid 30's to mid 60's came looking for, but with a band this good even the most tin-eared listener could not fail to notice how hot these players were and what a tight f#@king band they are. Enthusiastic applause followed solos taken by all the players, but when Victor soloed, his eyebuggingly virtuosic playing wrung gasps of surprise and amazement from the audience and left me slackjawed and agog with disbelief. 

Wow. 

Oh -- and the sound quality? As I've commented before in this blog, I've been abused my whole life by the shitty sound of so many venues where half of what a band is playing is lost in the blur of a muddy mix of crap acoustics and the neglect of indifferent and apparently deaf sound men that I would have been happy if the sound at the Tower had been merely good. But it was far better than that, it was superb. Every note was audible. Every. Note. 

I rode home a happy man.

I thank the non-profit Tower Theatre Foundation for making last night's performance possible. 
Check out their upcoming events: http://www.towertheatre.org/Events/default.aspx

[BTW: I didn't take that picture of Wooten, I got it off the web. I was temped to take a camera and binoculars to the show, but didn't know what the camera policy was; and didn't want to deal with the binocs on a bike. I didn't need the former, but my goodness I do regret not having brought the latter. Even Row D isn't close enough to watch a player's fingering and technique. Lesson learned.]




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