There was a warm up band. The Ronnie Baker Brooks band featuring Billy Branch, Big Head Todd, and Ronnie Baker Brooks. They were sizzling hot! For once I didn't feel I had to endure a marginal warm-up band. They were great, smoking hot. There was a funny moment during their set. Because it was a benefit for the CCH, you could have bought a video add to display on the big monitors. RundgrenRadio purchased one. When the RundgrenRadio ad displayed on the screen, the audience all cheered when they saw it. The band seemed to notice it, and were like 'what are they cheering for' ha ha....
The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless ran a raffle for either an autographed guitar, or a trip to San Fran. CCH commented that for the first time in their history the raffle tickets were SOLD OUT! They limited the raffle to 500 tickets. They seemed very pleased with the support from the Todd community. The organizers even came up to our table and thanked us for our support. I am happy their event was a success.
Then Todd, Prairie, and Jesse came out. Earlier several fans passed out glow sticks, glowing hair barrettes, glow gloves, and I had a headphone shirt that was electrified so it pulsed up and down to the beats of the music. We had Angry Bird Tattoo's. We were pumped. I vacated my seat and got right out on the dance floor. This was going to be my kind of show. Here I was for once was encouraged to get up and DANCE. I love dancing, and for once I wouldn't have to worry about someone yelling at me to "SIT the F" down. LOL
What I heard last night - was less of the pre-program and more of Todd's wonderful voice which seemed at peak performance. Jesse played guitar and Prairie at the drums. It seemed more of a three piece band to me with some background enhancement. Gave it a full sound. Anyone who suggested this was more of a karaoke act is mistaken. At least in Chicago. Perhaps the show is progressing in that sense.
What struck me in awe is that it seemed that Todd was really getting into it. Mr. Wizard with all the gadgets. Tweeking the laptop here and there. Directing the others. Living life as a 2013 producer. Electro, mix, modern. I will admit that I was afraid seeing "The Man Behind The Curtain" tweaking all the buttons while I watched, would have been a distraction. It was not. It was kind of cool. It appeared that Todd was in his element. Man, he put this all together in his techno mind. Yep, in his SPARE time away from the Ringo/Best Of back to back STATE shows! Proving that he still is a man on the move. Open to new things, energetic, moving, and changing. Never looking back. Well, looking back, but from a kaleidoscope rear view mirror. He remixed the obligatory 'hits' and made them fresh.
Yeah, he may have barked at Prairie once in what it looked like an attempt to speed it up.., but he was really playing off of Jesse. Especially with 'Angry Bird' and that song is my least favorite from the album, so I appreciated the interaction.
Todd danced his ass off. I don't know how he does it. I was a hot sweaty mess after the first few songs. He held the small fan up to his head for a while. The show came together for me. Even more than the PPV. Things seemed to work when they should have. Maybe it was the energy. Dancing with other hot sweaty messed adult/kids to 'Truth', 'Secret Society', 'WWE', 'Party Liquor', 'Smoke' and I LOVED LOVED LOVED "Nothing to Lose" and "Prime Time" what a blast to hear some 'Re(pro) too!
I hope someone has a set list, because it was mixed up from the first Bearsville show, and it worked!
I was half tempted to remove myself from the dancing crowd and go back into my seat to see the light show. But I couldn't pry myself away. During one song, Todd pointed a hand held laser contraption into the crowd. Yep, Mr. Wizard thought of that too. Every time I looked back, there were all kinds of stuff going onto the back walls.
Todd again had a well crafted set list, mixing the older retro/electro stuff with the new. Not a lull ever. Not one opportunity for a potty break. It was like when you are in the moment on the dance floor, and the D.J. blends in all the songs into one big mix so you don't want to leave.
The show wasn't intended for you to sit and watch and not feel it. It was intended for you to get in the moment with him, and live it with him, and that I did. He at one point said "I know you all like to crowd up front, but I see a little space in the back for you to fill in and dance. C'mon move your feet from the right to the left. You're not all zombies" or something like that. It seemed to fill up the floor more. I think as if all Todd shows, you are 'in' or you are 'out' of it. You either go with the movement of it, or you can analyze the heck out of it, and second guess why he does what he does. Or, your' just an old curmudgeon that likes to bitch about the 'old' days.
Yes, I stood in line with someone who had no clue what to expect. There was another fan talking to her telling her to just have an open mind. I kept thinking... here is this guy who played his "Hello It's me" hit on Midnight Special dressed in drag with feathers on his eyes. I'm sure his management said it was a 'missed opportunity' or misstep in his career. Here is this guy who followed up his hit album with AWATS. Here is this guy with a zigzag of a career playing music for his own enjoyment. He played the entire 'Arena' album. How could you NOT expect unexpected? This always amazes me how you can not see that in Todd's career.
I have a feeling that the STATE tour will burn away in a sunburst finish and blast away into the universe as quickly as it came. No looking back. I am glad I danced, rocked, and sweated through it. Park West was a great place for this with the open dance floor, plenty of seats for those who wanted them, great fans and energy, and I think Chicago is a Todd town. I had a blast with my 'Todd Peeps' and their energy and love was glowing as brightly as the glow sticks. Only positive ;)