The Brooklyn Bowl
Brooklyn, New York
November 5 & 6, 2010
The Brooklyn Bowl is an interesting mixture of a bowling alley crossed with a bar and dining situated near Blues Traveler’s old stomping grounds and home town of the late “Brooklyn Bobby” Sheehan. At the beginning of November, its stage was home to the band for two nights.
John Popper’s been tweeting on Twitter about having throat damage, his impending operation, canceled gigs, and how the end of the tour would be a subdued couple of shows. To everyone’s surprise, this was not the case. The first night was hot, followed by a scorcher of an evening the next night with two kick-ass sets.
Each night was opened by The Cringe, a NYC alt-rock band led by John Cusimano – husband of Rachel Ray – who happily danced along with everyone else on the first night. By the audience’s reaction it was apparent that they were an appropriate opening act, as the crowd danced and sang to most of their songs.
From the jump, John Popper dug deep as he belted it out like no one else can, and that lasted for the duration of both shows. If you hadn‘t known of John’s problems you sure wouldn’t have been able to tell based on his performance. Chan Kinchla’s guitar work was spot on, whipping out the licks as he normally does and dancing around the stage. Tad Kinchla, considered an under-rated member of the band, has become a most valuable and driving member, and his blazing bass riffs had everyone grooving. Ben Wilson (keys/vocals) also seemed to be in rare form and enjoying himself immensely as the drummer, Brendan Hill, drove the band to new heights.
The boys hit the stage and after a few moments of their typical on-stage banter they launched into "Dropping Some NYC > Crash Burn > Dropping Some NYC," starting the whole thing off in a typical New York fashion.
Over the two evenings it was a cavalcade of musicians as guest after guest came and left the stage. Some of the night-one highlights were "Mulling It Over" accompanied by Andres Noba on guitar that simply smoked, "Alone > Sweet Talking Hippie" with John Popper on guitar and "Devil Went Down to Brooklyn," with John’s jaw-dropping harp in the violin spots and Tad’s bass solo that had everyone cheering him on. Matt Whyte of Earl Greyhoud came on the stage to help out on vocals and guitar for Led Zeppelin’s "Fool In The Rain," which drove the crowd wild.
Songs from the second night that stuck out were "Gotta Get Mean," "Hook," "How Could You Want Him (When You Know You Could Have Me)" with The Spin Doctors’ Chris Baron; Popper serenaded Baron, who mouthed the question "WTF?" aimed at the Blues Traveler frontman’s skill. A rendition of Cheap Trick’s "I Want You To Want Me" with John Cusimano from the Cringe and Paulie Z from ZO2 ended the first set.
The second set consisted of a screaming version of "But Anyway" that had nearly everyone in the crowd dancing and singing along, followed by a stunning "100 Years" with the beautiful Lisa Bouchelle on vocals, followed by "Slow Change" and "Run Around" The two awesome nights ended with "Brother John."
As one would typically expect with the boys being home again, the crowd was in rare form for these two sold out shows. It’s a fact – there is nothing like the energy that a New York crowd brings to a show – a treat for the band and the crowd as they feed off each other. So once again, the Travelers are left to await another year’s visit, hopefully in the not too distant future.