Robert Randolph & the Family Band – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – Halloween, 2010

24Dec10

I probably sound like a broken record when I tell my friends that they should go see certain bands live, because listening to the studio versions of their songs is an injustice to their live sound. I go to concerts whenever I can…it’s like reading the book instead of seeing the movie. There is no better band for this notion than Robert Randolph & the Family Band. I tricked my friend into going to this concert…we were leaving College Park after a Terps football victory, and I told him we were getting off the Metro at U Street to hit a cool bar. Truth is, U Street is awesome and we could have skipped the concert to have a great time. But the first rule of Robert Randolph concerts is…you do not miss Robert Randolph concerts. The second rule of Robert Randolph concerts is…YOU DO NOT MISS ROBERT RANDOLPH CONCERTS. I hit the 9:30 Club box office for tickets, and we were in.

We were right on time because the band was in the middle of their first song. Remember what I said above about studio versions vs. live versions? They were opening with ‘Back to the Wall’ to make my point. Give it a listen in an online store, and feel free to hate it. It’s quiet, focused on the singing, and leaves you trying to figure out the message. In concert, the message is GET LIVE! It’s dominated by the bass line, and you can’t help but look around the crowd for first-timers staring in awe at RR himself as he plays. Randolph sits front-and-center behind a pedal steel (aka slide guitar aka lap steel aka steel guitar), which is only the greatest instrument in the history of manmade music. He’s always got a smile on his face, like he’s playing in front of a crowd for the first time. And he isn’t restrained by the rules of a pedal steel…he’ll kick the chair away and dance around while he’s playing pretty often. He’s an “average” singer, but who the hell cares. The guy knows how to put on a show!

Fellas…maybe you’re not sold yet. Check this out, a RR concert tradition: SHAKE YOUR HIPS (RR is to the right of the screen for most of this video). And that is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re looking for a musical equivalent…I’d say instrumentally it would be like a Roots concert, but with more of a rock/blues vibe to the vocals. Slightly in the direction of Parliament…minus the LSD and theatrics. Randloph’s nose is not devoid of funk. Ladies…looking for RR to sweep you off your feet? Would a cover version of THRILLER do the trick? (this video is from a different show)

The funniest thing about this concert was when some guy thought I was flirting with his girlfriend. She had spilled her drink on the bar literally 6 inches from my arm, so I quickly grabbed some napkins and helped her out. He immediately rushed between us from about 10 feet away, got in my face, and yelled “WHAT? (long pause) WHAT?” I literally had Captain-and-Coke gushing out of my nose because I was laughing so hard. The kid was like 22, a good 8-10 inches shorter than me, red in the face, and clearly comfortable with the status of his relationship. I didn’t say anything other than the audible laughter, and I guess his girlfriend explained what happened because he later apologized and got me a drink. I gladly accepted and reminded him to enjoy the show. Ain’t nuthin wrong with that!

music turtle recommends: GO SEE THESE GUYS!

Ever been to a Robert Randolph & the Family Band concert? Comment below

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