Saturday, April 7, 2012
Frontier, Brunswick, Maine
I’m always up for a Pete Kilpatrick Band show. Pete’s a local Midcoast Mainer—a guy you see out and about in town. You’d never know that he’s kind of famous—playing with his band at the Sundance Film Festival (among many others), having music featured on TV shows, and touring with major acts all over the country. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention that PKB was invited to perform at President Obama’s recent visit to Maine. No big deal.
I took my dear friend and regular concert buddy Michelle to the show as a belated birthday treat. We settled into seats in the front row (it’s where I like to be whenever possible) and were introduced to former-Pete Kilpatrick Band member and show opener, Hutch Heelan. I liked Hutch immediately—he has a strong, clear voice and writes simple, straightforward songs. Hutch had showmanship—he bantered with the audience about his caffeine levels, and told us that being asked to open for PKB (which he was a longtime member of) “made his heart sing.” I thought Hutch’s music was interesting—the chords he played had an optimistic tone, even though some of the song lyrics were about making difficult choices and dealing with the consequences.
He introduced his song “The Apology” by apologizing for heavy it is. A lady in the audience shouted out, “you’re apologizing for the apology?” It was cute. He switched to a fabulous old guitar that he joked (?) he’d pulled out of a dumpster on the ride to Topsham for the show to play “My Own Skin.” “My Own Skin” is one of my favorite songs on Hutch’s CD, Mercury Rising—along with two more pretty stripped-down songs on the album (I love acoustic music most, after all) “What Will Be” and “Bright Like Fires.”
I thought it was really smart that Hutch gave away free copies of his CD and stickers. It’s a smart way to build a fan base. I chatted with him after his set and he’s super approachable and friendly. If you want to know more about Hutch and his CD Mercury Rising, check out Hutch’s interview with Charlie Gaylord on Greetings from Area Code 207.
The Pete Kilpatrick Band gathered after a quick break, ready to introduce us to their newest album, (of their six albums in eight years as a group) Heavy Fire. I think Pete has great stage presence—he always looks genuinely happy to be on stage, and he introduces every song by giving the title (at the very least) and then ending each song with a vaguely Elvis-like “thank you very much.” The band had released its newest CD in Portland the weekend before, and Pete started the show by saying as much and then lightheartedly telling us that their opening song “is not a song from that album.” They opened with “The World In a Fishtank,” and went right into one of my favorites—“Who Do We Think We Are.”
I was happy to see that the majority of the guys in the band were wearing flannel. I try to promise Michelle there will be cute musicians wearing flannel whenever possible to entice her to join me for shows. Everyone sounded solid—Pete on guitar and vocals, Ed Dickhaut on drums, Tyler Stanley on keys (who makes the BEST faces when he plays), Pete Morse on guitar, and Matt Cosby on bass. The band has a good rapport—they tour A LOT together and seem at ease around one another. They played in New York City the night before and went on a “band field trip” to the Natural History Museum where they immediately got separated and of course didn’t have cell reception to fix the problem. These are the little stories that make a band fun to see and make it worth paying some money to hear their music played live.
They played back-to-back songs from their new album—“Martha” and “Burning Star.” Pete said that Heavy Fire is a concept album about a guy from Brunswick, Maine who goes off to fight in the Civil War. I was happy to hear that background—I love a little context and I love that Pete and the band are so literate and that their music is influenced by literature and history.
Pete asked if the sound was okay, and told us a story about how they were playing at the Sundance Film Festival when Paul Simon walked by—they can only hope they sounded good. I can’t imagine how exciting that moment must have been. I don’t suppose you can just holler out to legends and see if they want to sit in for a song? Knowing me, I would ask.
They covered “Harvest Moon” (I actually just heard another band cover that two nights ago, too) and invited everyone to come up to the front and dance during “Working On Your Heart.” They finagled a great Beverly Hills Cop intro to that song, which was a hilarious beginning to an old PKB song I really like.
Matt on bass joked he couldn’t see Tyler through Pete and kept waving at him. Pete joked they could just text each other if the separation was too much. Tyler’s keys sounded great and were featured in “Two Armies,” which was definitely one of my favorite songs of the night.
They played one of my very favorite old PKB songs, “Yesterday Love,” that includes a mash up with “Lovesong” by The Cure. Two more songs from their great new album (check out a review from the Portland Press Herald here) followed—“American Dream,” which Pete said was inspired by a red glass heart sun catcher in his kitchen that drives their dog crazy, and “Drifting in Color,” which Pete said they’d never played in front of an audience before, and to throw stuff if it sounded like a bad Duran Duran song.
The guys opened for Barenaked Ladies the week before (are you sensing how busy they are??) and were bombarded on stage with thousands of marshmallows—surely a good sign from a BNL crowd. I’m always happy to hear upbeat “Coming Home,” which won a national fan-based-voting contest. Pete forgot the lyrics and a guy in the front helped him out. He also squeezed parts of “Up On Cripple Creek,” “Love In An Elevator,” and “Ramlin Man” into the song—it’s amazing what you can do with three and four-chord songs.
Pete wrapped up the night by jokingly letting us know they’d play two more songs and then do a three-hour Led Zeppelin set (don’t be disappointed when I tell you that they didn’t actually get the led out). They played “Heavy Fire”—about dealing with stuff you don’t want to and being better for it and finished the night with “Trespasser.” Pete told us that “Trespasser” was based on Maine author Paul Doiron’s book by the same name. He asked if any of us had read it. Nope. He told us there would be an assignment on the book due at their next show. I may not have my homework done by then, Pete, but I’ll definitely see you next time!