Collective Soul @ The Visalia Convention Center, Visalia CA 09/19/99

For anyone that can remember, Collective Soul was HOT in the 1990’s. The formula was catchy, rockin’, and uplifting. At that time this Southern alternative rock band from Georgia was heavily played on alternative and college radio as well as MTV (when the channel still cared about music). And their increasing popularity landed them a spot at Woodstock 99. Singer and bandleader Ed Roland was another musician that Dbfield and I admired. He attended the Berklee College of Music for a brief period and came back home when his money ran out. He began producing music at home, ultimately leading to the creation of Collective Soul’s demo/first release which included “Shine.” The two records after that were phenomenal. The self-titled album and Disciplined Breakdown were like alt-rock masterpieces with a southern pop twist…if that makes any sense. Dosage was the new record at this time, and it was even stronger than the previous releases. The whole disc was awesome, you could listen to every track on there. Dosage was like a feast, every morsel was filling and delicious. It was a versatile and refreshing record. You could sing along to sweet choruses, rock out to chunky riffs, and groove to danceable rhythms. As for the arrangements, you could hear classic pop like The Beatles and Elton John in there. Roland knew how to write memorable melodies, material that could be played on radio without being forgettable or disposable (December, World I Know, Blame, Run, No More No Less, etc). Even the weaker tracks were pretty darn catchy. And the band was wicked talented, maybe too talented to simply be an alt-rock band. There was a grace and finesse to their playing, but not busy or complicated sounding.

This Central Valley show was one of two local gigs, the other taking place at the Bakersfield Co. Fair. The band was also scheduled to do The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that week as well.  It’s difficult to say how many people were in attendance. The Visalia Convention Center is a sizeable “small town” hall, capacity is listed at 3000. I think it’s fair to say that about 1000 people were there. It was a young and very energetic crowd, several kids came with their parents 🙂 The line outside the venue was lengthy, a high schooler said something along the lines of “man I thought I was the only one that liked this band!” A trendy modern rock band in the Valley was a big deal, I couldn’t get over that we were actually going to see the guys that made the discs that I spun in my jeep and played at home when I wanted a sweet escape from the world. It was Collective Soul. Not grunge, but something else, their music was like ear candy…sunshine for the ears.

This was my lady’s first ever show as well and she liked the group as much as I did. We were early enough to score spots in the second row directly in front of lead guitarist Ross Childress. The crowd was polite, friendly and respectful (save for a drunk that was ejected before the show even began!). And there were a lot of girls in the audience. The openers wrapped up their set and the docile crowd rose to it’s feet and created a mild crush up front. The band came onstage to high pitched cheering and girlie screams. The group looked like polished rock stars, abandoning the facial hair and grungy look of their early years for a slicker and clean cut look. Clearly the guys had make-up and hair specialists in their crew. While everyone else was cheering and screaming, I was geeking out, staring in disbelief as Ed Roland and Ross Childress stood only a few yards away from us as they performed “Tremble For My Beloved.” Second guitarist Dean Roland and bassist Will Turpin were also very visible, standing just beyond Ed and Childress. Drummer Shane Evans pounded away, showing off an expanded drum kit with electronic pads.

The production was very simple with the Dosage album cover serving as the stage backdrop. No video units or pyrotechnics were used, just a basic lighting setup. There didn’t need to be a spectacle or a “show” per se, this was a tight and passionate rock band that came to kick our asses – no fancy equipment needed. The live renditions were very faithful to the studio originals. The drums sounded just as sick as they did on record, the guitar playing was flawless and Ed’s singing was great. During “World I Know,” Childress used sustain to mimic the string sections during the pre-verse sections. “Run” and “Shine” were both played in a somewhat slower tempo. We were even treated to some surprise covers: Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” and U2’s “I Will Follow.” There were a couple points during the show when Ed and Childress tossed guitar picks into the crowd. One landed over in our area and a bunch of us scrambled to grab the pick. Luckily my lady pounced on it and stuck her foot on it, keeping the other fans away. Now if we could only find that damn guitar pick…It was an unforgettable experience to see this band in their prime, at a time when they were conquering the world. These bigger than life stars stood only a few yards from us, yet it was cool to see that they were actually very human. I’m pretty sure the set went down as follows but I swear I have memories of hearing “Needs” and “Maybe” being performed.

Tremble For My Beloved
December
Crazy Train (Ozzy cover)
Simple
Listen
No More No Less
Good Night Good Guy
Blame
World I Know
Precious Declaration
Run
Generate
Where the River Flows
I Will Follow (U2 cover)
Gel

Heavy
Shine

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Posted on January 29, 2013, in Collective Soul, Concerts: 1998-2004 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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