Blue October | 12.07.13

blueoct13 sqThe end of “Into the Ocean” became one of those things that fledgling rock bands can only dream about.

 

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The Pageant, St. Louis

The Point opened its run of Ho Ho Shows in fine form Saturday night. Playing up their Texas heritage, Blue October proudly displayed the state flag stage right. Tonight, though, this was a different quintet than we’ve seen: They were more playful and less intense; more pop and less rock; more untethered and less solid—especially vocalist Justin Furstenfeld, as he frequently took the wireless mic and stepped away from his guitar. Freed from the cords, he alternately walked, pranced, bounced, squatted, danced, pantomimed, sat on monitors, and faced the drummer, his brother Jeremy. Odd behavior from a man audiences had grown used to regarding as angry or chaotic, perhaps, but seemingly the new face of an oft-troubled singer who is finally healthy, both body and mind.

The band was four songs in before Furstenfeld addressed the audience with a brief hello: “How you doing? We’ve got a new album out called Sway.” Next up: “Hard Candy,” the gritty single from the new disc, and only one of two that would fall into any sort of “alternative rock” category. Even so, Furstenfeld stepped away from his instrument to squat at the front of the stage, reaching out to adoring fans as he intoned, “I was real in love with going fast/ I was so in love with going fucking fast.”

Next, Furstenfeld regaled the fans with one of many expressions of gratitude. “We’ve been coming here for a really long time,” he said, acknowledging the special relationship Blue October has with St. Louis. “We’re very grateful for your support.” The band then produced “Into the Ocean,” the poppy leadoff track from their 2006 album, Foiled, its singer naming it as one of his favorites to play live. The end of the song became one of those things that fledgling rock bands can only dream about: music stopped, mics set aside, and the lead singer conducting (literally) the crowd in singing an extended refrain.

Next, we were treated to a story about making the making of Sway, the number one rule, he told us, being that not one song could be about “how sad Justin is. That took about 75% of the songs off the table,” he joked. This was another gratitude moment, as he extolled the many gifts in his life: his bandmates (“friends”) on stage, his family, the loyalty of the fans. The line “I used to fall and now I get back up” was especially poignant.

Tonight, the already atmospheric “X Amount of Words” became a trance-y nightclub number—magical, yes, but Blue October? Apparently so. After an a cappella conclusion to Sway’s “Bleed Out,” the band closed with breakthrough single “Hate Me” before taking a quick break. A three-song encore passed by too fast, yet with a pointed focus on violin and piano, was a beautiful way to end the night. “We love you all,” said Furstenfeld as the band left the stage. For the diehard Blue October fan, maybe that was the best Christmas present of all. | Laura Hamlett

All Photos: Laura Hamlett

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About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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