Official Flametroll Concert Review: Robert Randoph and the Family Band

I promised you, my faithful reader(s), that I would tell you all about the Robert Randolph concert I went to over Labor Day weekend. Then I promptly saved the story as a draft and forgot all about it. Here it is, for those of you who are still interested.

In what appears to be an attempt to cajole people into coming to Milwaukee, the city offered an encore to its normal June-July Summerfest. It was titled, appropriately enough, Summerfest Encore. As a special incentive to spend even more time in Milwaukee, anyone who had a ticket from any one of a number of Brewers games could get in free. Taking advantage of having a ticket and living a bus ride away, I went.
For no money paid at all (college student's dream!), I saw Robert Randolph and the Family Band.

As the sun went down over the lakefront (Lake Michigan, that is), the grounds of the festival were covered in the fog. It was also covered in the collective smoke of a few hundred people who thought I was enjoying their second hand cigarette/cigar/joint. Thank you Febreze.

Instead of individual seats or open space, the stage was surrounded by long benches like you would see on the sidelines of a youth soccer league game. Anyone familiar with RR's music knows that no one will be sitting. It's going to be wall to wall, shoulder to shoulder with people dancing. So everyone danced on top of the shaky narrow benches. The kids behind me looked like juniors or seniors in high school. They were slightly stoned (I heard them talking about it) so after their first beers, they didn't have very good balance atop the benches. The same guy fell on me five times in the first four songs. Fortunately he mellowed out and maintained balance for the most part after that.

Oh, yeah. The music. It was great. RR is a jam band so they didn't really play a lot of songs in the traditional sense. Most of the songs didn't have lyrics and the ones that did only had mantra-like refrains ("Good time, good time. We gonna have a good time.") The rest of their songs were just extremely catchy danceable (that's saying a lot for me) with tons of improv. Three of the four members of the band are cousins. Robert wore a do-rag and played lapsteel guitar most of the concert. He got so hot playing onstage that his head was steaming through the do-rag. His cousin Danyel plays the bass. He must be six foot five and he just pounds away with his hands while the rest of his body doesn't even look like he's trying at all. The other cousin Marcus is the drummer. Then there's Jason Crosby. He plays everything else (piano, violin and organ). In one song, the guys all started switching around. By the time is was over, they had all played every instrument.

Anyway, great concert, very late review. Thanks for reading.

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