Des Moines, IA
October 19, 2009
It was an unusually warm fall October evening when Keller Williams graced the city of Des Moines. Although a Monday night and the crowd small, it provided a great setting for an intimate show.
Adding to the ambiance his stage, this tour, is set up to resemble a small mom and pop music shop. Over chatter and people milling about, Keller opened his set with the well known and fun tune "Kidney in a Cooler." It was good to see that with such a young crowd he would still have to work at winning over his audience.
The first time he pulled down one of his guitars from the plethora of instruments hung upon the stage, Keller enticed the audience with his warm and friendly voice, rainbow of musical skills, and variety of sound. Some acoustic music and impressive beatboxing skills led up to one of Keller’s infamous looping sessions and with that the night got grooving. He shifted into some bluegrass with "Take Me to the Tundra," moved on to some reggae, and the audience’s mood and attention was simultaneously lifted.
Barefoot, dancing, and surrounded by all of his instruments, you could see what a jovial soul Keller is; he clearly loves not just playing music, but playing with the music. While he breaks into a high energy instrumental groove, it’s like peeking into his lab as he experiments. As the notes of Sublime’s "What I Got" filled the air, Keller appeared to be having as much fun entertaining himself as he did entertaining the audience.
During the 2nd set, with songs like "Cadillac," a variety of instruments and Keller’s Echoplex looping unit were used. He was so precise with each instrument he touched. Although somewhat improvised, every moment was full of intent. With Keller all over the stage grabbing instruments, the audience bounced around and the evening finally fell into synch – just in time for a vibrant "St. Steven" Grateful Dead cover.
Weaving through 70s Disco, funk, and his cleverly crafted lyrics, the night moved forward seamlessly. "Best Feeling" initiated a sing a long and the evening ended on a high note with a "Portapotty" encore and the audience as part of the percussion section.
With his musical mad scientist skills and quirky storytelling techniques, Keller Williams won over the audience of Des Moines. According to one fan, "it all seemed so personal." It was personal and it’s always a gift to see a musician you know and love in a new light.