Last Night: Ben Sollee At Fitzgerald's
"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.
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.