Monday, August 1, 2011

Cloud Cult at Orchestra Hall 7/29/11

So I had been looking forward to this gig for awhile being the last *Big* show this July (The Dear Hunter last week, the week before Fair to Midland, 2 weeks before that The Monkees), except I hadn't been able to acquire a ticket. Why that was, pretty much not desiring to order one online, and failing to go down to Orchestra Hall in person before I learned of it selling out last week.

The Electric Fetus wasn't even selling tickets (unlike the show I saw last November at 1st Ave).

But I was fortunate enough to find some folks with an extra ticket, outside before the show.

Cloud Cult at Orchestra Hall. A rock band at Orchestra Hall is kind of an unusual idea, but with Cloud Cult or actually a number of bands I enjoy that include the classical or chamber instrumentation in their sound, it really doesn't sound as odd or incongruous as it sounds on the surface.

Now in one sense, it was still as for much of the show the crowd was standing and some dancing around. Something you'll see at The Cedar and many clubs like The Varsity Theater or 1st Ave. But a classical music hall, it probably doesn't happen too often.

I suppose one of the biggest things about the show was the crowd. While a high percent of the crowd were people I'd expect to see at a club show, there were most definitely many folks there who came out of curiosity and to fill their Orchestra Hall season pass lineup. This may be stereotyping a bit, but it reminded me of seeing the 70 or 80+ aged folks at Trans Siberian Orchestra. Those folks would never know or listen to Savatage, but because TSO is/has and does a Christmas-themed show, they find appeal to a wider/different demographic.

One thing Craig Minowa mentioned is how by playing at Orchestra Hall, and seeing the crowd size there, a hope (dream?) is to come back and play their with an actual orchestra.

A friend of mine wasn't too interested in going on Friday, but mentioned to me if they were with an actual orchestra, it would intrigue him more. So, perhaps the next time they will.

As far as the performance and music (and visuals), it was pretty spectacular at times. The video screen they had accompanying them added a lot visually. Many songs had videos that went with them. Some I believe are on youtube like "Everybody Here is a Cloud" and "Running With the Wolves."

The set list that's listed is frankly, pretty incomplete.

Today We Give Ourselves To The Fire
There's So Much Energy In Us
You'll Be Bright
Forces of the Unseen
Running With The Wolves
Transistor Radio
The Exploding People

I'll add/edit what I remember, maybe even later this week. But the songs I know they also played (which included in the 2 encores they did).

Everybody Here is a Cloud
Love You All
No One Said It Would Be Easy
Dance for the Dead

They also played at least 2 or 3 new songs. And I knew they were going to, having asked Sarah Ehlhardt, their keyboard/piano/trumpet/french horn/vocalist vaguely about the show. I happen to be lucky enough to be taking piano lessons from her, so I couldn't help but ask about the show last week.

I suppose to sum up this Cloud Cult show, compared to the last/1st one I saw last fall. It was probably as memorable and as much if not more of an *Event* than that other show. Although, overall it probably didn't grab me as much given it wasn't my 1st time seeing them live, nor have I been listening to Cloud Cult's music so much recently as I had been back last Fall.

Plus it was a pretty different dynamic at Orchestra Hall. I suppose the ENERGY and even the group drumming maybe wasn't quite as memorable. The paintings of course happened as they always do from Connie Minowa and Scott West. Compared to the show I saw last Fall, I guess the style and layering were the opposite, comparing the works I saw them make at the show in November. Connie's this time was much more less-is-more than Scott's. But I guess it's unpredictable and I imagine both of them don't think about that when making those paintings during the show.

Also new Cellist Daniel Zamzow was quite good, replacing longtime Cellist Sarah Young. He has good chemistry with violinist Shannon Frid. Almost to the point I forgot he was new. Although I ended up in the 4th row, to the far right of Sarah Ehlhardt, which kind of isolated those 2 and some of the rest of the band to the opposite side of the stage from me.

That was one thing I wanted to ask Sarah about, and maybe I will soon, as to why her side of the stage seemed less involved than the other. The band seemed more connected on the left side, and I almost felt bad for her. Craig came over to use the piano a few times, but other than that, she was kind of on her own on the right side. Plus as wonderful as her french horn was, it at times seemed drowned out by the strings. Perhaps that is/was intentional?

Another thing to mention is opening act Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps. I had no idea she was opening, and she mentioned she has a cd release show coming on September 16th at the 1st Ave Main Room. In short, I like her and liked seeing her back in January 2009 with Jeremy Messersmith and Best Friends Forever. But I haven't thought about her since. Save for the fact Arlen Peiffer, Cloud Cult's drummer, mentioned to me at the show last Fall, how he played with her. He wasn't on stage with her on Friday, but her opening for them probably had something to do with that connection.

Just a thought, might Jenny Dalton open for CC at some point as well? (her band has used CC's old rhythm section anyway).

But I may try and see that show in September, and am certainly going to check out her new album Little Wind.

After the show it was pretty crowded in the hallways, but I was able to say hello to Sarah, Caroline and a few other performers. And then actually stumbling upon some fans being quoted for the Star Tribune. I actually chimed in, and talked to the Strib reporters. Kind of in my typical "I have a blog like so many others, blah blah blah" and how Cloud Cult are progressive rock, and stuff about other bands like The Dear Hunter and Apes and Androids. The reporter doing the photography actually suggested I could freelance write for them or somewhere else. And that was really nice of her to say. I guess I wish I knew how to have an opportunity like that, beyond just calling Citypages or one of the other publications and suggesting it. Could it actually be that easy? I wish it was, but I suppose I'll never know unless I try.