Grace Potter at the TLA 10/28/10

Marquee for Grace Potter at the TLA

Last month, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals were coming to town and I wanted to take Shari and I to the show. I’ve bought (or won) us tickets to 3 shows in the past but she hadn’t made any of them yet (including the show we BOTH missed because we were armpit deep in bathroom renovations). Unfortunately, with finances tight lately I had to give up on the plan for getting us tickets for the TLA show.

The morning before the show, I saw an announcement that WXPN was having a contest giving away a few pairs of tickets to the show if you liked their page on Facebook and left a comment. I figured that lighting wouldn’t strike twice (I won a pair of tickets to the show at Bryant Park in NYC a couple of months ago), but what the hell.

Enter a little bit of luck (or karma) – on the morning of the show I got the email that I had won a pair of tickets – and Shari had a cancellation of an appointment in New York, which meant she would be here to go. Fourth time was a charm, I guess.

Opening Act

The opening act was a four-piece band called HACIENDA from Texas who played a mixture of blues and rockabilly with a tex-mex accent. The band was led by vocalist/guistarest Dante Schwebel and his cousins bassist Rene Villanueva, Abraham Villanueva on keyboards and a drummer Jaime Villanueva, who was oddly reminiscent of Animal beating on the skins.

They put on a good show – despite a little snafu with the equipment at the beginning (“I think something just blew up on the stage!”) – mixing it up with a variety of songs and a few covers of 50’s rock-and-roll.

The Main Event

After a short intermission, the headline act came out with Scott, Benny, Cat and Matt jamming to what their set list called “Psychedelic ?uestlove Intro”, going into “Sweet Hands”. The whole band was styled to nines, the guys in their 70’s porn best and Grace and Cat in some hot sequined dresses. From the first tune, you knew that they were going to rock.

Grace Potter at the TLA

The second song, “Oasis”, slowed it down but didn’t rock it any less as the sultry tune echoed through the full theater, Grace in place behind the piano where she would spend a good portion of the night (vs. the Bryant Park show where she seemed to be playing guitar more often than not). After the tune, Grace talked about their dinner arrangements at a new Italian restaurant which wasn’t completely open — and yet gave them ‘some of the best Italian food they’ve ever had.”

Following that brief interlude, the band went into a trio of tunes from the new album, “Goodbye Kiss”, “Hot Summer” and an extended “Tiny Light”. The first song was a great rendition as Grace belted out the funky tune – matched by Scott on harmonica – to a dancing and singing crowd, but the band really started to wail when they hit “Hot Summer Night”, a mile-a-minute rock-and-roll tune that is one of my favorite tunes on the album. Favorite, except perhaps for “Tiny Light” which sounds better every time I hear it. Like the last show saw, the band extended the tune into a long outro to the song. After rocking for 3 straight tunes, they slowed it down again for a “Falling or Flying” from This is Somewhere.

GPN at the TLA

By this time, Shari was into the show (almost) as much as I was – and I was glad that she was finally getting a chance to see Grace and band live and to enjoy them with me. At this point, they presented me a personal gift as they played “Mastermind”, a tune I’ve been wanting to hear for a while but haven’t had the chance. “Treat Me Right”, one of the band’s most straight-blues songs was another good tune from an early album but slightly paled against the songs on either side of it.

The band paused for a bit, as Grace started talking about how they were going to play a tune that they didn’t often play live (‘I’m not sure why,” she admitted) and said they were playing it that night because of a personal request for “Jake”, who had left it on her Facebook page. They did a great job of a delicate song as the music and their voices carried through the thick air in the venue. Next up was “Stop the Bus”, a great tune that they have jammed through every time I’ve seen them – and this was no exception. Another one of my favorite tunes, I might have gotten a little too into this song, as Shari laughingly told me to stop over-singing the band. Whoops.

Grace Potter on acoustic guitar

Grace and friends next jumped into another song from the new album, “That Phone”, a spunky, jazzy number about the final kiss-off. Then the lights when down and the band starting mellowing as the the opening notes of “Apologies” began with Grace leading from the piano. It was a beautiful rendition of a beautiful song and the crowd was captivated. But the peaceful tone soon gave way to the finale for the night, “Medicine” – a new favorite of mine from the latest album. The band seems to always have a lot of fun with the track and this time was no exception, as Grace danced and exuded the sexiness that the song embodies.

Encore

I’m not sure why bands bother to do this, since we all know they’re going to come back out but the band left the stage for only a brief time before returning for their encore. After all, we hadn’t heard “Nothing But the Water” yet, and they didn’t disappoint as Grace’s voice carried the tune a capella, a soulful, bluesy dirge cast out into the night … and then jammed as the rest of the band joined her for “NBTW II”.

Then we were given a treat as she took the piano and started playing something I couldn’t place – and yet was strangely familiar. After a few moments, I realized that they were doing a cover of Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away”. While unexpected – it wasn’t a song I would have expected Grace to do – but she pulled off a beautiful rendition of this ballad. Then it was time for the final song of the night as they band rocked it out one last time as Grace strapped ON THE FLYING V and launched into “Paris”, a great finale for the show.

Overall, it was a great time – from the luck in winning the tickets to an awesome show – and best of all, I finally got to share it with Shari.

Set List*

Psychedelic ?uestlove Intro >
Sweet Hands >
Oasis
Goodbye Kiss
Hot Summer Night
Tiny Light (LONG) >
Falling or Flying
Ah Mary
Mastermind
Treat Me Right
Things I Never Needed (for “Jake”)
Stop the Bus
That Phone
Apologies
Medicine

encore
Nothing But the Water I (acoustic) >
Nothing But the Water II
Take My Breath Away
Paris

*set list thanks to Setlist.fm [http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/grace-potter-and-the-nocturnals/2010/theater-of-the-living-arts-philadelphia-pa-73d56e29.html] for the setlist. You can also see video of all of the songs (from different venues) on this page.

You can see some sweet pictures of the show (much better than my iPhone pix) on thewaster.com [http://thewaster.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=907:grace-potter-and-the-nocturnals-102810-tla-philadelphia&catid=5:photography&Itemid=39]

More pictures on TriStateIndie [http://www.tristateindie.com/?page_id=6173]

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2 Responses to “Grace Potter at the TLA 10/28/10

  • did the tex mex band use lots of cilantro during their set?

  • Totally missed your comment, Van. Actually, there seemed to be more adobo than cilantro.

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