ON THE ROAD WITH KELLER IN CALI

4/1/01 | The Galaxy Theatre | Santa Ana, CA

The Galaxy show, to put it in one word, was immense! The venue is a refurbished dinner theatre, with three rows of dinner seating surrounding a oval dance pit 30' in diameter. The stage was roughly equivalent to the GAMH stage in width, but was about twice as deep. The food was excellent, the staff very friendly and helpful, and the sound clear as a bell.

The openers were local talent that actually drew in a sizeable crowd -- about 50% of which left before Keller came out! The remaining crowd consisted of local live-music addicts and hardcore K-dub freeks who, like I, had travelled to see Keller play. This was a refreshing mix, and it was apparent that those who had never seen Keller before were completely blown away!

Keller played a single 2-hour set, from 9:30 to 11:30, and never slowed down or stopped for a spare breath of air! My highlights included a 15+ minute long Shakedown Street (a serious crowd pleaser) and my first "The Galaxy Theatre does NOT allow crowd surfing or moshing" during Chillin' Like a Villain. Keller busted out a bewildering variety of toys for "Tyre Shop", a new louped instrumental piece that features K-dub on cow bells, two-toned whistles, steel pan drums, Motorola walkie-talkies, and other toys. "The Juggler" featured the standard 3-pin juggling interlude, and a new twist: a freek in the crowd tossed Keller a pair of devil sticks, allowing K-dub to showcase another aspect of his manual dexterity. The evening closed with a number of encores, including the Simple Minds 80's pop cover "Don't You Forget About Me", and a up-tempo rendition of "Boob Job" with Keller on djembe.

No rest for the weary, as we headed up the coast to Santa Barbara. The Southern California coast glittered in the sun as we drove up Highway 1 towards Santa Barbara. The middle coast of California is some of my favorite stretches of coastline -- the hillsides are green, the architecture is beautiful, and the people are tan and relaxed.

4/2/01 | The Clos Pepe Vineyard | Lompoc, CA

The Clos Pepe Vineyard is a low-yield organic vineyard specializing in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, nestled in the rolling hills of Lompoc, California. The party was organized by Kristen "Dirtgirl" LaBonte, and sponsored by Wes Hagen, who manages the vinyard.

The stage was set alongside the horse stables (occupied by Chase, who sometimes bites), in front of a lush lawn and rose garden. A potluck, complete with several kegs of SLO Brewing microbrew and Clos Pepe house vintages, provided needed sustenance for dancing and a common in-gathering point for social activity. And social it was! The atmosphere reminded me more of a freek cocktail party than a concert -- people were open, friendly, and very interested in getting to know one another. I was pleasantly suprised to see that Lumpy, Cory, Ned and Catherine, fellow NorCal freeks, had made the trek down south.

My highlights of the night included the rambunctious crowd participation of "Roshambo", the sweet and soothing melodies of "Bird Song", and, of course, the euphoric upwelling of emotion that is "Best Feeling". Keller also threw out a couple of suprises, an old-school "Couple of Freeks on a Bench", and a song I had never heard before, "The Circus (Welcome to the Freakshow)". The looped chorus to that song is quite haunting, and still echoes in my head to this day.

To those of you lucky enough to be able to catch Keller during his current tour, I HIGHLY recommend you see him. His loops are tight and purposeful, his vocals (backed by the background vocals of Lou Gossain) are sweet, simultaneously powerful, raucous and moving, and his guitar work is, as always, without peer.

GO SEE LIVE KELLER!

Thanks to Kristen for organizing the party, and a
rousing RIGHT ON to the Clos Pepe Vineyards for sharing
their amazing space with us.

Mark Huisman
JamBase East San Francisco Bay Area Correspondent

[Published on: 4/4/01]

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