SHOW REVIEW: Jayhawks Clip Their Own Wings
McCabe's Guitar Shop - April 14, 2002 (Los Angeles)
By: Rick Cipes
Dude, it's all about the chi (energy) that flows between the band and the audience, and if that chi gets blocked inside said band members chakras, the audience is going to feel a bit deflated; especially if the expectations are high, as they were Sunday night at McCabe's Guitar Shop when the usually entertaining Jayhawks played the first of their sold-out acoustic shows.
The Jayhawks have been one of the alt-country-roots-rock's (include your own extensions here) more engaging bands throughout the years, beginning with their 1991 critical breakthrough "Hollywood Town Hall," but on this particular evening "engaging" regressed into prosaic; look at the pendulum, you are getting very sleepy...
Trying to achieve a scene that was as "intimate musically as possible" (stated by lead singer/guitarist Gary Lourdis on a fan site), the threesome fell tediously flat and could have used a serious intervention of triple shot espressos infused with a lot of ginseng.
Nothing wrong with a little intimacy, but if my date's idea of intimacy is breaking out B.O.B. (Battery Operated Boyfriend) and pretending I don't exist, then that's when it's time to disrupt the flow and scream, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" Unfortunately, no one had the cajones, or enough of a psychotic reaction, to do that.
Fact: There was nothing wrong with the sound itself...instrumentally it was fine, harmonically beautiful...but from a performance standpoint, and in terms of any connection, whatsoever, the chi-line was dead; the band could have just as easily e-mailed it in. Not only did they fail (and maybe flat out refused, due to choice) to reach out and engage the audience directly...every song sung with eyes shut...but they also failed to engage one another. There was a moment that was a perfect opportunity to "Smile" and shed light on the audience...after dedicating a song to a very young girl in the front row...but they dropped the clouds back down on that one too, retreating into their own inner "expression" without so much as a glance down at their little fan.
The set-list included several of their old favorites mixed with a few new tunes; none of which managed to roust the people from their slumber, with the exception of the solo work Lourdis did for the encore on "Waiting For the Sun." It was the one moment of Zen when the emotional connection with the music shined through, and in turn, the audience was able to experience a touch of the catharsis they had all came for; definitely not enough to light up a smoke afterwards.
Perhaps the detriment for the band was in having the banal Cash Brothers open for them. These two-chord droners out of Toronto are to suicide what beer-bongs are to getting lit. Who knows how much Valium or Prozac is included in their diets, but perhaps the dosage should be increased so audiences never have to witness them rise off of their couches ever again.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Rick Cipes' comedy can be viewed at www.comedyave.com.