Texas alt rockers Blue October brought their “ I Want It Tour” to a packed First Avenue Mainroom on Saturday night.
Vocalist Justin Furstenfeld and keyboardist Ryan Delahoussaye met in high school and heard the siren song of rock and roll. Recruiting Justin’s brother Jeremy on drums, they formed Blue October in 1995. Though they saw some local success early, it wasn’t until 2003’s History for Sale that the band gained national attention. Stardom was soon to follow with the release in 2006 of the single “Hate Me” from Consent To Treatment. They have released 8 studio albums and are currently touring in support of Home.
Openers The Score are described as an indie pop band and consist of Eddie Anthony and Edan Dover. These guys make amazing music. While you may not be familiar with their name, their music has been all over, from Pitch Perfect 3 to numerous video games and their YouTube videos garner tens of millions of hits. Their sound is kind of like the Chain Smokers meet Imagine Dragons. “Miracle” will get the blood flowing, and air guitars were in full effect the Mainroom. “Legend” is just a straight up dope rock anthem. The Score definitely set the bar high Saturday night.
Hitting the stage at 9 sharp, Blue October launched out of the gate with the inspirational “Coal Makes Diamonds”, a song about struggling for sobriety; the pressure will either turn you into dust or a diamond. Justin Furstenfeld has been very public about his battles with mental health and substance abuse, and this song has become an anthem in the recovery community. Furstenfeld is intense on stage, and it is apparent the songs hold deep personal meaning to him and the band. Ryan Delahoussaye was in beast mode, going from guitar to keyboards and back to guitar, even throwing in some sweet violin licks. The band dug deep into their most recent release Home. “Driver” has a much more polished sound, almost National like, than Blue October’s earlier work, yet still has an edge live. These guys are powerful performers, and Justin continually reached out to the audience, and each time the crowd responded in a frenzy of screams. Several times during their set, Justin acknowledged the pain and suffering that are the heart of his writing. There are powerful messages in these songs that resonated with the crowd. It’s obvious these guys have a cult like following.
The loudest audience response of the evening came as the opening strains of “Into The Ocean” emanated from the PA system. This song is one badass piece of musical poetry, and Furstenfeld delivered it like an evangelical preacher, albeit one that drops a lot of F-bombs. While the lyrics are dark, this is the kind of music that makes pain make sense. This entire band played with mad energy, leaving their souls bare on the stage. The encore brought another huge outburst from the audience when Blue October played “Hate Me”. It was one big sing along as the audience knew every word.
Furstenfeld and company can still deliver a soul cleansing performance and after 22 years their message is as strong as ever.
Setlist: Coal Makes Diamonds – I Want It – Say It- Dirt Room – Hard Candy – Sway – Home – Driver – The Feel Again (Stay) – Fear – Into The Ocean – Houston Heights – Leave It In The Dressing Room (Shake It Up) Encore: Hate Me – Come In Closer – Italian Radio – Things We Do At Night