Last Night: Ben Sollee At Fitzgerald's

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Photos by Jessica Perry
Ben Sollee, Thousands
Fitzgerald's
July 21, 2011

"I don't know anything about cello or classical arrangements but I like this stuff," Aftermath said to our classical-music teacher, great friend and sometime colleague Meghan Hendley, keyboardist for local group Tyagaraja. We were both upstairs at Fitzgerald's for the Ben Sollee gig.

And she still has not emailed us that glossary of classical terms we would need to know during the night so we wouldn't look like a stupid meathead in this review. For shame.

This was not the usual show where you will see Aftermath, at least not this one. Our natural habitat as of late has been the Toyota Center, covering the latest female popper or major touring rock act.

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Thousands
The quiet inside Fitz, especially during the opening set by fragile and dear acoustic Thousands was deafening. Houston had shut the hell up and was listening to the Seattle-based group made up of Kristian Garrard and Luke Bergman.

We had one of those moments, not unlike that Patton Oswalt bit, where one of his fans at a show couldn't stay silent (silence is pain!) during a particularly deep bit and had to scream. We didn't holler, but we did run outside to set our phone to silent, and had our jangling keys from jingling around the venue. Shaking the sillies out.

To define Sollee as merely a classical artist is to ignore the soulfulness he exudes. He somehow makes cello sound like one of the bluesiest, happiest and most thoughtful instruments around. In the close quarters of Fitz, and with the expert work of in-house sound designer Lauren Oakes, the audience could hear every bit of the set the way it was intended through cello, violin, and drums.

The material from his new album, Inclusions, is a lot warmer and sunnier than his 2008 disc Learning To Bend. This time around he doesn't seem so guarded and newborn. Now he's writing even more intriguing songs, like "Bible Belt," a mid-show highlight.


Location Info

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Fitzgerald's

2706 White Oak, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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7 comments
Meghan
Meghan

A great and eloquent piece about this musical magical wonder of a show that shook Fitzgerald's Houston with beauty and string grace. Kudos Craig! This was one of the most powerful shows I've ever been to, hands down (mea culpa Craig for not sending you those terms by the way, you did just fine). There was an awe and reverence for each musical moment that happened, the nuances of classical music met with the emotional force of modern rock. My favorite quote: ​"Teach Me" was clearly baby-making music for most of the female crowd, with Sollee and company wrenching out the slow jam, and Sollee sliding his bow back and forth and up and down, with Hendley cheering like Aftermath at a Slayer show during "Angel Of Death."

Ko
Ko

Really an amazing show.  He had the entire crowd won over from his first note.  Didn't know much about him, but the show blew me away.We were on the lower floor...how was the acoustics on the upper floor?

Dean Davis
Dean Davis

that was an incredible show. I'm glad that the crowd got the message for once and kept it down (except for a few women who appeared to be planning their next get together at full volume right behind everyone seated on the floor. Fortunately they stopped when I asked.)

also, I don't see his cover of That's Where It's At by Sam Cooke on the set list, that was a highlight for me

CraigHlavaty
CraigHlavaty

I was up there during Thousands and it was great. 

CraigHlavaty
CraigHlavaty

Oh damn. Where was it again in the order? I can fix. 

Ko
Ko

Excellent.  I'll have to check out the upstairs at the next show.  It looked comfy up there.

On an unrelated note, I found it a bit peculiar that the lead for Thousands sat side stage, while the backup was center stage.

Dean Davis
Dean Davis

i think it was after It's Not Impossible, but I'm not sure. Just remember that it was near the end.

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