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Concert Reviews: Dishwalla

Dishwalla and Rooster
The Magic Bag, Ferndale, MI
September 22, 2002
By: Matt Boltz

A lot has changed for Dishwalla in the six years since Counting Blue Cars helped spur the band's debut album Pet Your Friends to platinum status. The resilient quintet from Santa Barbara, CA has found a new label, immergent Records, that has given them the attention, promotion, and corporate support they failed to receive from their former label, A&M Records, following the 1998 release of their sophomore effort And you think you know what life's about. The group has been touring the nation since the April release of Opaline, their latest studio album. The band's hectic tour schedule recently brought them to Michigan for a September 22 show at the Magic Bag in the Detroit suburb of Ferndale. Opening the show with a solid 40-minute set was Rooster (previously known as Uncle Booby), a seasoned rock quartet from the Detroit area with a good fan base and fresh off a string of opening slots for Nickelback.

photo of Dishwalla singer JR Richards copyright Janet ReidBy the time Dishwalla took the stage for their 75-minute set, the 300-seat theater was more than half full, impressive for a Sunday night show headlined by a band who receives virtually no radio support in the area. Fans moved up to the small floor area directly in front of the stage as the show progressed, and by the end of Dishwalla's 15 songs the floor was nearly full with fans, many of whom were singing along and dancing enthusiastically. The sound was mixed well and was just as clear near the concession stand/bar in the well-lit lobby as it was in the dark confines of the theater. The set list featured a refreshing combination of old, new, and cover songs that captured and maintained the crowd's interest while allowing the band members to showcase their aptitude for playing different musical styles and tempos. Old favorites that the crowd appreciated included Charlie Brown's Parents (an impromptu addition to the set list at the request of an insistent fan), Counting Blue Cars (featuring an extended bluesy guitar solo by Rodney Browning Cravens), and Give (with a long intro by keyboardist Jim Wood). Newer songs from Opaline, including the singles Somewhere in the Middle and Angels or Devils, were well received, as were the covers of Elvis' Suspicious Minds and the Soft Cell classic Tainted Love. As always, photo of Dishwalla members JR Richards, drummer Pete Maloney, and keyboardist Jim Wood copyright Janet Reid J.R. Richards' vocals were mesmerizing, particularly in the emotion-laden When Morning Comes and the adrenalized Moisture, the latter of which featured multiple jumps from the bass drum by Richards. Drummer Pete Maloney and bassist Scot Alexander provided a tight rhythm foundation, with Maloney eliciting a great response from the crowd with his solo during Moisture and Alexander lending a thunderous backdrop to Stay Awake with his bass-slapping technique.

If Dishwalla is getting weary from their seemingly nonstop tour schedule,
they are doing a great job of hiding it; they looked like they were having a blast onstage, they played with a lot of passion, and they and the crowd fed off of each other making the show an intimate experience. It's a shame that more people don't experience Dishwalla's amazing live show. If the band can keep playing frequently at a diverse range of venues and receive the radio support they deserve, perhaps the Dishwalla phenomenon will once again reach the masses. The band refuses to let the business aspect of music keep them from doing what they do best, so make sure to catch them at a small venue while you still can because it wouldn't be surprising if they soon outgrow intimate venues like the Magic Bag.