Monday, May 9, 2011

Concert Crone Report: Chris Robinson Brotherhood

The Concert Crone operates in a musical netherworld: too old for bouncers to ask her for ID, too young to give up the thrill of buying tickets for live performances using the secret presale code. In this first of an occasional series of concert reviews, the Crone braves the Bay Area music scene and answers the question: Worth Hiring the Sitter?

The Band: The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Thursday May 5 2011. Robinson is best known as the lead singer for the rock band Black Crowes, and for being the ex husband of super peppy actress Kate Hudson. The only song the Concert Crone knows from the Black Crowes is "Hard to Handle," which she likes because the lyrics in the refrain are unintelligible, so you can sing along differently each time, like scat singing.

The Venue: The New Parish in Oakland, a smallish club on the back side of the much more ornate Fox Theater where on the same night, Fleet Foxes was playing. As Robinson pointed out, "There are a whole lot of beards within a five block radius. We're glad you came to see our beards." Interestingly, the Crone watched someone in front of her get busted by the bouncer for lighting up a joint, which was unexpected in a city nicknamed Oaksterdam.

The Company: Erin, who is in the Crone's writing group and is an effervescent thirty something hippie chick who looks a whole lot like Kate Hudson. This will become important later in the review. 

The Crowd: Dear god, is the Crone ever happy that she found her mate before the beard, newsboy cap, and skinny-jeans-on-men fashion triple threat kicked in. She doesn't think she could marry someone who looks like a cast member from "Newsies" stumbled out of the backwoods and then put on the first pair of pants he saw hanging on a backyard clothesline, which unfortunately belonged to the teenage girl in the family.

On the other hand, the two young African American women in halter dresses with Angela Davis hair: the Crone apologizes for staring, but you were magnificent even if your hair blocked her view of the show. 

Also: according to two tourists from Toronto who were in the crowd, Dave Chappelle was there, but the Crone never saw him. Maybe he was hiding in the Angela Davis hair thicket.

Age Humiliation Factor: Medium. On  the one hand, the bouncer did ask for ID, which the Crone eagerly produced from her purse. On the other hand, when Erin pulled out a own battered passport as ID, the bouncer was off to the races in a game of flirty travel one-upmanship. "I'VE been to 27 Asian countries, you? Oh, you've lived in Africa? Where?" The Crone's ID could have been a Costco card for all that the bouncer actually examined it.

Cool Factor: Extremely high. Walking toward the venue, the Crone wondered if they were on the right street. Erin said, "Well, we can ask Chris Robinson" as she pointed across the road. Indeed, there was Chris and his guitar player Neal Casal ambling in the same direction, and they gave the "hail fellow, well met" salute and crossed over. It's always cool when you walk to the door of the venue WITH the band, especially when Chris Robinson said "Well, gotta go, we have to use the back entrance," before parting. 

Then, on his way through the crowd way up to the stage, Robinson tapped Erin on the shoulder and said, "Hey, you made it!" before taking the stage. The Crone believes the Kate Hudson resemblance may have been a factor.

Worth Hiring the Sitter? Definitely. Hearing the Brotherhood is like taking a nostalgic visit back to the best '70s rock concert ever - guitars and blues and great classic covers. There was a heavy Grateful Dead vibe, including a "Space"-like jam that gave the Crone plenty of time to use the bathroom, reapply lipgloss, and get another beer without feeling she'd missed anything interesting. Even packing the lunchboxes the next morning on only 5 hours of sleep, the Crone was still glad she went, and humming Sugaree.

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood is touring all over Cali this spring and then on to points east - see their website for details.

Did you see the show? Is there another band you'd like the Crone to review? Are there other factors that you, as a music fan whose former concert t-shirt budget is now spent on things like kids' orthodontia and PTA memberships, might like to know about before hiring the sitter? Email the Crone at contact at normalarkey dot com or post your comment here. When she wakes up from her afternoon nap, she'll get to it.


  1. Pure awesomeness. We caught the Black Crowes in a little venue when they came through last summer. Although it was...17 years after I saw them for the first time (damn I'm old!) was still a great show.

    And I completely agree with you--no boy looks good in skinny jeans.

    Glad you had such a fabulous time!

  2. Sounds like a great show - cool that you walked in with the band! I loved the Black Crowes, my favorite being "She Talks to Angels". I must have listened to that one a million times!

    Thanks for the review - looking forward to more!

  3. Peeing my pants over the "Angela Davis thicket" remark, and at the thought of the skinny bearded woodsman nicking the teenage daughter's skinny jeans off the clothesline.
    Saw the Crowes in '95, but the one thing I remember about that show were the massive Oriental rugs they had as their onstage carpeting. Prolly 'cause they're so classy and high falutin'.

  4. Oh my god, I am still laughing at "the crowd" description! Girl, you are so fun to read! My question is, do they do house concerts?

  5. Wonderful. "Worth the babysitter" made me lol...actually the entire post did. Well done, from another concert going mom :)


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