Oct 20, 2010

Citizen Cope at the Vic on 10/8/10

I am going to first recommend the Kirkwood Bar and Grill as a great pre-show dinner place. The Kirkwood is at 2934 N. Sheffield just South of Wellington (even better if you are taking a train to the show, get off at Wellington on the brown line). This used to be the old "Pops for Champagne" which I frequented back in my dating days. OK, on a really good evening or brunch date. I digress. The great news is the food is great and they have a large outdoor patio in the back. If you order the tater tots you should expect a plateful. We loved the seafood tacos (tilapia) and the turkey burger sliders were delish. We were having such a good time, we decided to skip the opening act. For a full review of the Kirkwood, click here!

I went to the Citizen Cope show on a double date with my husband Jeff and good friends Leah and Paul (see entry on Jamie Lidell for more on Paul). Paul was kind enough to burn a great mix CD for me chronicling all of CC's greatest hits. I was excited since I had never made it to the show before although they often play at the Vic. I must tell you about the merchandise they were selling. It was over the top. They had more merch than a Rolling Stones concert when they played at Soldier Field (I was there and I kid you not):

Yes, I bought a shirt. How could I not with such a vast selection?

Citizen Cope is fronted by singer/songwriter Clarence Greenwood. He was born in Memphis, another great music town, and raised in Washington, D.C. Greenwood has a folk, mellow hip-hop, and basically "chill" soul sound. You just want to sit back with a martini or dance while listening to his music. Greenwood first broke into the music business by appearing on albums by Maryland-based rapper Basehead and came out with his first album, Cope Citizen in 1992. CC's latest CD Rainwater has many excellent songs and believe it or not, on this very night, was distributed for free to those who stayed until the end of the show and went up to the stage for the hand-out.

As for my review, I will tell you up front that I was prepared to be impressed since I love the music. The reality is that Greenwood (known to fans as "Cope") does not banter with the audience, has awkward silences between songs, and barely moves on stage. I was not even sure if he was strumming his guitar during half the show. Now other long-time fans, less sinister than I, apparently swallowed the Cope Kool Aid and had much forgiveness to offer. I asked my friends what there opinion was regarding his lack of stage energy. I was informed, not only by my "mature" non-alcoholic, non-drug using, friends, but by a group of friendly 23 year olds from Miami, that "his lyrics are so powerful that his music stands alone. He just wants his music to speak for itself". Hmmmm. Sounds like better drugs are involved than I am used to taking, not that I do not value these opinions. I personally think that he is shy or stoned (see Austin video below and you can decide). I would go for the music and not the show, in this case. I am going to stand by my stone cold opinion and well, reality. Cope is inspired to write about the harmful effects of racism and extreme and aggressive nationalism. He clearly cares about the world and wanting it to be a better and more friendly place sans violence. From that perspective, his writing does "speak for itself" and may not lend itself readily to banter without going into a long political monologue.

Amusing (But Annoying to Experience) Side Story

I was dancing and had momentarily stepped away from my great real estate when a young frat boy decided to jump up from below and stand in my spot. The dialogue went something like this:

Me: "Excuse me but I have been standing there all night so would you mind moving over, there is enough room for both of us."

FB: "You moved away to dance with your boyfriend so..."

Me (to myself in a thought bubble): That is hilarious, he is talking about my husband of 13 years. He must think we are so very young that he is my boyfriend. I was flattered in some weird way. What I said while attempting to videotape:

Me: "Listen, I just want to take some video so I can post it to my blog."

to which he replied:

FB: "OOOHHHH, You have a BLOG, so you think that gives you credibility right away??? Am I supposed to say like WOW??"

(them's fightin' words now folks...)

Me: "Why don't you stop being an asshole and move the f-over" at which point I reclaimed my space. He somehow managed to concede, knowing in truth he was what I said.

Really, this happened! If you put the volume up on the following song you can hear some of the fun exchange of barbs:

The video below is a cover of "Bullet and a Target" performed by Australian rapper duo Bliss N Eso. The power and strength of Greenwood's lyrics and his hip-hop style are really emphasized in this clip. Maybe the songs do stand alone and speak for themselves. No banter necessary?

And Citizen Cope performing "Bullet and a Target" at Austin City Limits;

After contemplation, I have to give the show/evening a 4 out of 5 guitar rating. Not sure I buy into the "no banter" required, awkward silences allowed, concept and second, did not like being bullied by the frat dude. I do love Citizen Cope's music, made a few new young friends at the show, kept the ones I came with, and no punches were thrown. All in all, a fun "chill" night. But hey, just because I blog does not make me credible. Read with caution.

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