Thursday, June 25, 2009

Carbon Leaf, Joie Calio, Trevor Hall - a night to remember

I snapped this photo of Carbon Leaf while the band was performing "Learn to Fly" unplugged to kick off their encore.
Carbon Leaf
With: Joie Calio, Trevor Hall
Where: The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano
When: Wednesday night, June 24

When it comes to magical performances, sometimes they happen when you least expect it.
Count the satisfying triple bill that played at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Wednesday night, June 24, 2009, as one of those amazing shows that will linger in my memory years from now.
Being a Wednesday night, the venue was sadly less than capacity despite a promising lineup that featured a rare Orange County appearance by Richmond, Virginia’s Carbon Leaf, as well as Laguna Beach singer-songwriter Trevor Hall and Seattle-based singer-songwriter Joie Calio.
The last time I caught Calio with Dada, he played several acoustic songs in the middle of the band’s set, but that didn’t prepare me for how strong he could be for a 45-minute solo set armed only with his soaring voice, an acoustic guitar and hand-written notes positioned nearby.
Playing a mix of songs from his 2003 solo debut “The Complications of Glitter,” as well as Dada, his 2008 release with X Levitation Cult and material from a forthcoming untitled effort, Calio’s nine-song set was somewhat of a revelation with dense Dada material such as “Feet to the Sun” and the X Levitation Cult rock tune “Happiness In Hell (Spaceman)” translating easily to his singer-songwriter approach.
He also recognized the significance of the setting, noting 17 years earlier Dada performed their first-ever show on the stage of the Coach House.
Hall, singing and playing guitar, mixed a Southern California folk-rock vibe with reggae rhythms to good affect, particularly on the hard-driving “Volume” and new single “Unity” (a song he co-wrote with Matisyahu).
There was likely no way that Carbon Leaf could please everyone, considering the quintet has released a number of strong full-length albums since the mid-1990s. Carbon Leaf is one of those bands where you could ask five listeners to name a favorite song and you would get five different titles.
The troupe’s set list this night was a strong one, drawing heavily from the group’s ‘00s albums. Including gems such as the folk-rock of “Life Less Ordinary,” infectious “What About Everything,” alt-countrified “One Prairie Outpost,” ”haunting“ The War Was in Color” and regular set-ending “Miss Hollywood” proved effective across the 110-minute set.
Fans that have wisely picked up the exclusive edition of “Nothing Rhymes With Woman” were not as surprised as some concertgoers with the band’s occasional breaks from a standard full band presentation. After all, one of the highlights of that special release is an acoustic version of “Lake of Silver Bells” that captures the magic of the original rock version, while also showcasing an ensemble especially skilled at playing traditional folk minus clich├ęs.
So when it came time for an encore, Carbon Leaf stepped away from their microphones and positioned themselves with their acoustic instruments at the utmost front of the stage. The group then performed a beautifully-rendered version of “Learn to Fly,” with Barry Privett’s emotive voice soaring over the acoustic instruments and harmony vocals.
One couldn’t help but wish that Carbon Leaf will be back around real soon.
Immediately after performing (12:10 a.m!), the band members came out into the crowd to chat with fans. My friend and I ran into Barry Privett when we were getting up and he couldn't have been nicer. And then when I was purchasing a copy of the band's "5 Alive!" CD at the merchandise booth, Terry Clark came up to us (not knowing we were both music writers) to thank us for coming to the show. Wow, the perfect way to cap a memorable night.

1 comment:

newwavegeo said...

You hit the nail on the head. It was an amazing show! Having not seen Calio before, I was impressed with his solo material too.