100 Shows of 2010 - #68: Blue Giant @ Iota, 9/23/10

It is perhaps one of the music fan's greatest fears. Band members of a band that you really, terribly love going off and getting all sideprojecty, with horrible results. However, not all sideprojects end in sonic catastrophe. Witnesseth one and all the glory of Blue Giant, the brainchild of Kevin & Anita Robinson, the purveyors of seriously splendid Left Coast tuneage in their vessel Viva Voce. But as we Geminis can attest, sometimes you just need a change. And the Robinsons branched out, opting for a bigger sound and a bigger band (hi, three extra members!). They landed at Iota one Thursday evening, sunshinery in tow as they opened for and then played backing band to Bobby Bare, Jr., and the whole thing was a delight from the word go.

MINI RECAP: Blue Giant = Blithely Great! Overall Score: B++

"Hi everybody," began Kevin Robinson, cheerful smile plastered under his beard, "we're Blue Giant from Portland, Oregon," proceeding thither to launch into the band's excellent set with the driving "Go On". Despite a slight imbalance in the sound (hello, slightly too much guitar), the song was mighty fine, in the vein of Viva Voce but with more emphasis on the song structure and the country meets pop of it all. The road-weary, boisterous stomp of "Wesley" was next, melodic and slightly torn and frayed.

"Target Heart" was a standout, lovely and dreamy with Kevin's voice emoting even more lovelorn plaintiveness than on record, and the lap steel adding immeasurable amounts of glorious wistfulness. For "Lonely Girl", Mrs. Robinson took her turn with lead vocals, singing with aplomb some modern day country gal blues. This is one impressive vocal couple, y'all. Quite possibly my favorite moment song-wise came when the band covered the classic Byrds song "I Wasn't Born To Follow". I thought instantly of Easy Rider, and motorcycle rides through a harsh, dusty desert. It got a little crazy up there with the rocking out, let me just say. O, the madcap instrumentalizationality of it!

And when I thought it couldn't get any better, they broke out with the irrepressible pair of "Run Rabbit Run" and "Blue Sunshine", the former jauntily hopping its way along the twangy path and the latter utterly impossible to ignore, what with all that mandolin madness going on. The set came to a close with the unexpectedly Beatles-esque "Clean The Clock", and I couldn't help but feel a little sad about the end of such a great set. Bobby Bare, Jr., was fantastic of course, but hells bells y'all. Blue Giant was nigh on stunning.

Sure, I was expecting nothing less than near-perfection, given how much I like Viva Voce and how good Viva Voce is live AND how good the Blue Giant record is (which, by the way, ought to be in your collection by now). But the band exceeded those lofty expectations of mine, bringing the mellowness of the West and some seriously sensational songs. It would behoove you, lovely loves of mine, to spend a little time warming your soul in front of the glowing embers of Blue Giant.

mp3: Blue Sunshine (Blue Giant from Blue Giant)


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