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Blog — "Merriweather"

Friday Night Surprise

Heidi Shenk "Merriweather" "music" "the black keys"

In case you missed my Instagram or tweet, this was the fun surprise for Andrew last night--

And it was pretty awesome. Except I'm really bad at not taking photos so this is all I've got. Let me just say this-- the show was raw and stripped down which is the way music is supposed to be. And it was a perfect night for a show at Merriweather.

Andrew had read an article about The Black Keys several weeks ago. They were freaking out about their huge tour because they didn't know what to do about their stage concept. A big tour like this is a totally new concept for them. In the article, they had mentioned that they finally decided on putting some big lights on stage and getting a big disco ball. During the show, they definitely had some big lights and nothing more. During the encore, they definitely had a big disco ball. And the surprise ending for the finale? A big light up sign reading The Black Keys.

There are songs in which Dan Auerbach, the guitarist in the duo, switches from acoustic to electric guitar. All fine and dandy when you can edit tracks and make it seamless on an album. When playing live, there is literally a 30 second gap in the middle of the song while he leaves stage, swaps guitars, and starts back into the song. Things like this make the music true to what it is-- stripped down and naked. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

While they played the songs that everyone wanted to hear, they also dug back to some of their original records. My favorite part of the show was when they played as just the two--drums and guitar--without their touring musicians. The sound dynamics from hushed, quiet notes to loud, raucous, crunchy guitars was great. Some might be disappointed in a show like The Black Keys because it isn't by any means a spectacle. But those are the kinds of concerts that I love the most and last night was by no means an exception.

(Oh yeah, and the Arctic Monkeys were pretty raucous and fun too!)

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Steely Dan at Merriweather

Heidi Shenk "Merriweather" "music" "Steely Dan"

We kicked off our lineup of concerts with Steely Dan at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia on Tuesday night. Steely Dan has long been one of my favorite bands. My dad used to put their album Pretzel Logic on the record player for me to listen to. I have good memories with Steely Dan as well.

In high school, my parents and I took a three week long road trip out west to Seattle and down the Pacific coast to California. The album Gaucho brings back that trip every time. When we stopped at my aunt and uncle's house on Seattle's Bainbridge Island, my aunt had only recently bought a fun little blue Civic. Knowing that I had just acquired my driver's license, she let me have a little test drive. Before we left, my uncle rushed out of the house and said, "Wait! You need some driving music!" He passed a cd through the open sun roof and I asked, "What is it?" "Just put it in the stereo," he said. So I did and was greeted by Babylon Sisters, the opening song on Gaucho. That song was one of my childhood favorites, and I had not heard it for years as my parents had somehow lost their copy of the album. My uncle burned the cd for me and it was my soundtrack the whole way down the Pacific coast. While staying in Mendocino, California, we found a super cool coffeehouse. We popped in for some coffee and appropriately we were greeted by Babylon Sisters yet again.

So Tuesday night, we headed to Merriweather for a show I had long been awaiting. We met up with the same aunt and uncle that have since moved to the area. Merriweather is an amazing outdoor amphitheater famously known for its spot in the woods and its fantastic natural acoustics. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, it has hosted some of the most famous bands and musicians of our time. Some have even used it as a recording space due to it's fantastic acoustics. We packed a picnic to enjoy on the lawn before the show-- one of the bonuses of the venue-- and soon the show was underway.

Sky at Merriweather as the sun sets.


Yup, blurry, but one of the only photos I took during the show.

The Miles High Big Band who played with Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were first class musicians. They opened with a big band style jazz intro before Becker and Fagen took to the stage. In addition, The Embassy Brats, their backup singers, had some amazing talent. I used to want to be a backup singer for Steely Dan-- I thought it would have been a fantastic gig. Both Becker and Fagen were just as amazing as I had hoped-- Becker with his smooth, seamless, and odd-timed guitar riffs and solos, and Fagen with his distinctive vocals and incredible piano playing ability. While I was shocked that the two most popular crowd favorites were My Old School and Reelin' In the Years, I got my fill of what I wanted with tunes like Aja, Hey Nineteen, and Time out of Mind. And they even played Babylon Sisters. :)

Set List:

Your Gold Teeth
Hey Nineteen
Everything Must Go
Black Friday
Time out of Mind
I Got the News
Show Biz Kids
Babylon Sisters
Dirty Work
Papa Don't Take No Mess (James Brown cover)
My Old School
Reelin' in the Years


Kid Charlemagne

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