Medium to Small Capacity
Prior to attending the three band line-up at Richards on Richards, the only things I knew about the headlining act, Cary Brothers Band were: a) Cary Brothers is from Nashville, b) he is good friends with Zach Braff (who gave him a career break by putting his song ‘Blue Eyes’ on ‘Garden State’s soundtrack, c) Cary Brothers is one person, not a band, and d) I love his song, All the Rage.
As soon as Cary Brothers Band took the stage, it was obvious that he was no longer a one man show. Surprisingly, there were two extra guitarists, a keyboardist, and a drummer. Cary made a point (his first of many) of explaining that this was his first time playing with a band in Canada.
Cary Brothers Band began their set and the sound was pleasant, vocals on pitch, quite soothing. At times it was difficult to hear his lyrics as his words were never crisp or clear, more mumbled. The band appeared redundant as Cary’s opener and following songs did not require, or fully utilize the band. The audience instantly recognized the lyrics to ‘Ride’ and you could see a few of the faithful singing along.
I found more gals were lingering in front of the stage than males; the fellows having drifted off towards the back of the dance floor. Unfortunately, I was also made aware of some gals in front/centre of the stage, hell bent on getting any band member’s attention. This was done through hair flicking, nuzzling/ kissing one another if a band member glanced in their direction, taking pictures of themselves with their cells to ‘share’, leaning forward against the stage speakers, flashing wide smiles and laughing uproariously at some private joke one had whispered in another’s ear - all while the band was in mid-song! I wondered what on earth they came for - the music, or a Cary Brothers’ band member? Despite my lengthy history of concert attendance, this trio stumped me.
Cary Brothers Band third song was introduced with a story about a girl Cary dated who turned out to be ‘crazy’; started stealing ‘shit’ from him and ‘got crazier’. (Midway, he threw out a ‘let’s face it, all women are pretty crazy’ generalization, searching the spattering of male faces for confirmation). He finished with, so I wrote this song about her called, ‘Something’. Along with his girlfriend woe stories, I found Cary Brothers’ frat boy, ‘Let’s get drunk and party’ attitude to be at odds with his articulate and sensitive music.
I was growing tired of the slow, moody set and became restless, standing, sitting, wandering, and seriously questioning if some interesting tunes would kick in. There was absolutely no interaction between Cary and his band and I would venture to guess that they didn’t even know each other (and perhaps that is why he failed to introduce or even acknowledge them to the crowd?)
Voilá, the band launched into a rocking, solid song ‘Supposed to be’‘ with full band accompaniment and I finally got a glimpse of the talent that everyone else has been talking about. Brilliant performance. As well, when Cary launched into ‘Waiting For Your Letter‘, the percussion was great, the band started interacting with each other, and the rhythm of the guitars was stirring. The full band complement sounded great in all the right places and I finally got excited about this band.
He proceeded into his next song by announcing ‘This is for all of you motherfuckers in Canada. I was dating a gal in L.A. and things were crazy, but when we travelled to Canada everything was great. But as soon as we got back to L.A...” she was miserable again and...’ Hmm, I’m seeing a pattern in Cary’s romantic relationships, and I doubt that it is always the girl who turns out to be the loose cannon. After the rousing intro (‘Yeah and this is for you too, you fucker, watching Leno on T.V..’ - directed to the DJ squirrelled away in his back booth and apparently with a T.V.. on.) The song had a slow start but a good bridge, yet again the lyrics were indistinguishable.
As Cary chatted up the next tune I kept my fingers crossed for another up tempo tune to maintain the crowd’s momentum. (I play for Jack Daniels he joked, so feel free to get me a couple.) But it wasn’t to happen. When he started to explain that he was a ‘child of the ‘80s’ and the next song may have an ‘80s vibe, I (once again) became intrigued only to be left disappointed as he mumbled his way through yet another lovely, boring ballad. The Last One I had had enough. Too many times I had been prepared for something with meat, only to sit through another ‘pretty’ song.
Why does Cary Brothers need a band? While singing his ballads (the majority of his set) only his guitar is really needed, and any accompanying music was not distinguishable or set apart either through lights or physical positioning. Cary’s singing was very nice, but his proximity to the mic made for a lot of muffled words and sounds.
Cary once said in an interview (on Zach Braff’s site, I believe) that a singer needs to be fearless and willing to fall on his ass. ’... The people I respect the most as artists are the ones who fell and got back up again. I don’t think you can really succeed until you stumble...’Given that Cary ascribes to this train of thought, I hope he will view his Richards on Richards performance as a ‘stumble’, return with a more polished audience banter, reconfigure his song sequence, and thoroughly engage and utilize his band.