Charlotte Celebrates 25 Years Of Cracked Rear View With Hootie and the Blowfish
Group Therapy Tour Stops at PNC Music Pavilion
It may seem hard to believe but it’s been twenty-five years since South Carolina rockers Hootie and the Blowfish released their blockbuster debut album Cracked Rear View. You literally couldn’t go anywhere in the summer and fall of 1994 without hearing the band’s special brand of roots rock blasting from radios, cars, and special events all over the country. The record would go on to achieve massive commercial success becoming one of the best selling albums of all time in the United States and certified platinum 21 times with an eventual Grammy Award win in 1996 for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with “Let Her Cry.” The band wasn’t your typical rockstar group and instead appealed to the masses of everyday people who could easily relate to a group of guys that just seemed to enjoy playing music together. Hit songs like “Hold My Hand” and “Only Wanna Be With You” became the soundtrack for that time period of our lives. To this day, when I hear a song from this album, it immediately takes me back in time and memories of lazy weekends on the lake put a smile on my face. After a successful run, Hootie and the Blowfish went on hiatus in 2008 as members pursued other interests and solo careers of their own. To commemorate this special anniversary, the band announced they would be back together touring on the Group Therapy Tour with Barenaked Ladies. They will also release their sixth studio album Imperfect Circle on November 1after signing a new deal with UMG Nashville. Charlotte music fans were more than excited for the return of Hootie and the Blowfish as the band played to a sold-out crowd at the PNC Music Pavilion.
The parking lots were packed early with fans who had been waiting a long time to see their favorites, Hootie and the Blowfish, hit the stage once more. Hailing from Columbia, SC which is just a short drive down Interstate 77, the band has always had a special connection for Charlotte area fans. Getting things started were Canadian rockers Barenaked Ladies who are always a very fun act to see. The band is most known for their alternative rock hits but they incorporate a really great variety into their music and live performances touching on not only rock, but acoustic, pop, folk, and even hip-hop. The group has sold over 15 million albums and has won countless industry accolades including several Juno Awards and has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the band, chances are you’ve still heard at least one of their songs as they are responsible for the tune “The History of Everything” which is the theme song to the hit television show The Big Bang Theory.
Having played together for many years, the band has developed a great on-stage rapport with each other which results in a ton of ad-libbing and comedic banter between songs. Don’t be fooled by the great stage show though, all the band members are accomplished musicians and the band sounded tighter than ever as they ran through a 14 song set that had the crowd amped up and ready to go. Vocalist and guitarist Ed Robertson was spot on and bassist Jim Creggan brought out the stand-up bass for a few songs as well. The real show stopper was the final song which was a medley “Barenaked Rap” and had the band members coming down the catwalk at various intervals getting silly and having a great time. They played excerpts of songs like “Shallow” and “Old Town Road” and even went into a bit of Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode” and Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” before closing out with the Queen classic “Another One Bites the Dust.” It was a crazy, energetic ride and the audience loved every minute of it, giving the band a standing ovation before they left the stage.
After the requisite break for set changes and let’s face it for fans to use the bathroom and replenish their drinks, it was finally “Time” for Hootie and the Blowfish to rock the PNC Music Pavilion. The venue lights went dark and a recording of Samuel L. Jackson reading Ezekiel 25:17 played through the loudspeakers. When the lights came on, the band was out as Darius Rucker came running out, microphone in hand and started right into “Hannah Jane.” From that point on, it was a packed set of Hootie hits and great covers with a few surprises thrown into the mix. The giant screen at the rear of the stage changed images from song to song with everything from a farmhouse to a garage or basement rec room being depicted. It was just enough to enhance the songs without being too much. Frontman Darius Rucker, who has also become an extremely successful solo artist, sounded fantastic as his gruff vocals resonated through the hot, summer night. The band was on fire and for a few fantastic hours, time stopped and we were transported back to when things were simpler and our worries fewer. People were dancing and singing along to all their favorites, cheering and holding their beers up in the air in an informal salute to their heroes. Couples held each other just a little bit tighter and when the band kicked into “Let Her Cry,” there were definitely some tears being shed. The music was invigorating and soothing to the soul as Hootie and the Blowfish brought out the best in all of us attending. Emotions were firing on all cylinders with all the highs and lows one can experience through the power of music and when the band closed their regular set “With a Little Help From My Friends,” nobody wanted it to end. Apparently, neither did Hootie and the Blowfish as they returned for a three-song encore.
What a night! This was definitely one of those shows where you are riding a concert high for at least a few days as you bask in the glorious memories of the music. In a world full of constant stress and chaos, music is always there to help us through and bring us together. I know that others felt the same as we walked through the parking lots “with a little peace and some harmony” thanks to Hootie and the Blowfish.
For show information and to pre-order the new album, click here.