I am not ashamed to admit that I love Hootie & the Blowfish.
Cracked Rear View was released in 1994, and I made a cassette of it and "Under the Table and Dreaming" by the Dave Matthews Band for my Ohio slacker boy. I just remembered that on the way home. CRV is one of the few records on my "love every song on it" list. Lots of memories. Is it genius? Probably not. But it's hooky, and it's fun to sing along to, it's not completely idiotic, and it has moments of beauty. Sounds like a pretty typical day in my life, come to think of it. Maybe that's why I like it so much.
Anyway, I even bought the records that nobody else did (except for the last one a couple of years ago, I have to admit...) A fan, I have been. A closet fan, mostly - not that I've ever felt the need to hide my taste in music. I have enough cred to know that cred doesn't matter. What you like is what you like. But who's gonna ask, "Hey, whaddya think about Hootie?" It just never came up. I kept my listening binges to myself, and that was that. The funny thing was, I'd never seen them live. And I dug them way back when I had disposable income (or thought I did - what an idiot) for concerts a couple of times a month, and they were touring all the time.
The drought ended tonight, as they played Hometown Holidays in Rockville - the city's alternative to traveling on the holiday weekend, which actually isn't so bad. Two guys in the band are from Montgomery County, hence the tie. And double hence, the mayor declared today "Hootie & the Blowfish Day" in Rockille, which I guess means we should all say, "Hey, what're your plans for Hootie Memorial Weekend?" Or not.
Last Train Home opened the show, and that was pretty great in and of itself, but I've seen them about twenty times (it must be that many by now) in the past few years.
I have to admit that I went in with low expectations, but hey, it was free. Short story - it was a blast. A very good time. I was really impressed with how solid they are, and how much fun they still seem to be having after all this time. Let's face it - it's a pretty sweet gig, this rock and roll thing - and this is a group of guys who are pushing 40 or already there, and seem to have that concept well in hand.
The only alarming part was Darius Rucker, inexplicably, attempting to rap. I was in total denial when, in the middle of that "Old Man and Me" song, I heard them break into what I THOUGHT was Public Enemy, but thought, no way. Can't be.
All around me, in the Regal parking lot, Rockvillians were placidly responding to Darius's "Fight the power!" call with a WEAK "fight the powers that be?" response! There is no QUESTION MARK ON THAT, PEOPLE! Fight the Powers that BE! It's a statement! A command! Not a question! Somewhere, Flava Flav's clock was stopping. It was just random and very amusing...and that song should never be amusing, really. Word.
They also played a cover of REM's "Don't Go Back to Rockville", legend around these parts for its unintentionally prescient lyrics..."Don't go back to Rockville/ and waste another year..." I could go into all sorts of analysis about the irony of the populace screaming out THIS tune with authori-tah, at a concert celebrating the hometown holiday, but it's pretty straightforward.
And in what had to be my FAVORITE moment of the evening, Darius intros the song by gesturing to the two MoCo boys on stage with him, saying, "these two mother#$*&(s been talking about this place for twenty years!" The fact that he was playing for hundreds of families with seemingly endless streams of children did not stop him. My father can barely hear, so he had me repeat it for him, and we both cracked up. Rockville, thy ears were bleeding. I need to remember to check the Gazette this week to see if there are any angry editorials or letters. ; )
The rapping unfortunately began again in the encore, with Darius attempting songs that should never have happened in the first place, like "No Diggity" (I mean, why? I had to wrack my brain, going, "I like the way you work it - you got to bag it up," frightened that this sounded so familiar out of context, only to remember that it was a line from a most unfortunate song), Country Boy, by Nelly, I think, or who? I don't know. And several others, including Gin & Juice. Just...no. Bad ideas. I didn't know why the man was trying to rap, after having just done a serviceable "Black Water" cover and then bringing it round to home with "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" by the Georgia Satellites. It felt like a schizo night with me and my iTunes, there towards the end. And after you've wrecked "Fight the Power", there's really nowhere to go but down.
But all in all, they stuck with what they do best, which is jangly guitar tunes, fun covers, and old hits, and that was pretty cool. It was also fun to watch the man in front of me who was obviously an old fan, sing along to all the songs with his wife and teenaged son - just having the BEST time. It's what music should really be all about.
Hence, song of the day - the Hootie and the Blowfish set list, minus the rap. I may have forgotten a couple. I think I'll buy the new record.
Time, Hannah Jane, Old Man & Me, Only Wanna Be With You, Let Her Cry, I Go Blind, Running From an Angel, State of Peace, Add it Up, Don't Go Back to Rockville, Little Brother, Hey, Hey, Wot Can I Do, Black Water, Keep Your Hands to Yourself, I Hope That I Don't Fall in Love With You, Hold My Hand