BY BRENDAN MAGEE
As an 11 year old male in 1995, I sensed I was experiencing my first music identity crisis. While driving from the local Shop n’ Bag to Joanne Ann Fabrics with my mother, I was exposed to Montell Jordan’s, “This is How We Do It”, Better Than Ezra’s, “Good” and somehow, likely due to my mom’s own undiagnosed ADHD, Melissa Etheridge’s “I’m the Only One” all in one sitting. No doubt my mom was all over the place on the radio dial, but I wasn’t doing myself any favors by sitting silent in the back seat letting the chaos go on unchecked. Frankly, I was sitting in the back, staring out the window trapped in my own head, “Turn the beat around…love to hear percussion,” wondering where it would end.
Then it happened. Collective Soul’s “December” came through the speakers of the Ford Taurus and my eyes turned from a listless gaze out the window directly toward the radio dial in the middle of the dash, intrigued, enthralled. Of course Ed Roland hadn’t even gotten through drinking water from his hand when my mom flipped the dial and Gloria Estefan began beating me over the head about that damn beat again. But I had heard enough. I told the driver that I demanded to listen to the last station, that I liked the song.
My mom dismissed this demand, stating the man sounded like he smoked too many cigarettes and drank too much whiskey. My mom was not wrong. He did sound like that and I needed to hear it again. Defiantly, I made the move, unbuckling my seatbelt and lunging forward and over the immoveable front seat, my mother’s right hand swat too little and too late to stop me from dialing back down to the rock frequency. My mother respected defiance to a degree and allowed the maneuver and resulting station to stay. “Turn your head now, baby, just spit me out”. These lyrics are disgusting, she said, but didn’t change it. Even my mother, with her relentless ADHD, knew a good hook when she heard one. And so my guilty pleasure love affair with Collective Soul began.
Friday October 30th had me once again banging my head, ripping air guitar and wondering about the combination of grain alcohol and tobacco it would take to get a perfect rock n roll voice like Ed Roland’s. Collective Soul is on tour supporting their 9th studio album, See What You Started by Continuing and brought the old and the new to Denver’s Summit Music Hall for a sold out crowd. Opening at 9:15 PM with the aforementioned “December”, the band got off on the right foot and blazed on with classics “Precious Declaration” from 1997’s Disciplined Breakdown and the shred-heavy “Heavy” from 1999’s Dosage. The band, which includes mainstay brothers Dean and Ed Roland and bassist Will Turpin plus drummer Johnny Rabb and percussionist Jesse Triplett, continued with new tune “Hurricane” and again proved to any skeptics of their viability that this band can still write a great hook and a catchy chorus.
While I am still disappointed Ed and Dean did not come out in leather pants and were sporting, er, grayer hair than the last time I had seen them in 2000, all was forgotten and forgiven when the band continued with fan favorite “Why, Pt. 2”, originally on 2000’s Blender, and the full throttle singing and thrashing about continued. The night carried on in that fashion, by that I mean every tune, and whether brand new or 20 years old was an absolute blast. The energy was fantastic. At one point a middle aged man attempted to wedge his way ahead of a middle aged woman who would not have it, a silhouetted and muted argument ensued until the crushing chords of “Where the River Flows” off of 1995’s self-titled album came crashing over the PA; my attention was momentarily diverted away from the fan mayhem and upon looking back I saw that they too had come to their senses and moved on from the incident. This show was too fun to waste in an argument.
The night closed with a few more classics. Yes, they played the hell out of, “Shine” and yes everyone was on their air guitar and rocking their head in unison. For a band that released a ton of hit singles in the ‘90s and 2000s, I’ve always thought of them as one of the more underrated rock groups of that era. They got through to me then and continue to do so with the newest studio release.
And while leather pants get traded in for less badass normal person pants and hairs do go gray, Collective Soul still rocks the hell out of a room. I’m satisfied. You can change the channel now, mom.
Photo via the band’s Facebook page.