W/ HER AND KINGS COUNTY
Saturday, June 27, 2009
@ Joe's Bar in Chicago, IL
By: Robin Dolezal
Joe’s Bar on Weed Street was pumping with high energy on Saturday night with good reason. The crowd was anticipating a good show with 2 influential acts that were slotted to perform; upcomer Her and Kings County and all time favorite Keith Anderson. Be sure to stop by the Joe’s Bar website to see all the exciting upcoming shows at http://www.joesbar.com/.
Her and Kings County - The night started off with 5 men taking the stage and creating a heavy sound on the banjo and drums. It forced the crowd to wonder why the band was called Her and Kings County, until the lead singer, a tall blond with hair that compares to Rapunzel, took the stage with fire. Even a fan in the audience stated that this was the Gwen Stefani of country music.
“Happy Saturday Chicago” she screamed before grabbing the microphone and singing the first song of the night “Everybody”. Immediately the crowd was pumping as they mimicked the lyrics by stomping their feet, clapping their hands and shaking their ass. Her and Kings County chose a variety of songs to complete their performance which included “Troubles” and “Freedom To Ride” off their album “1609” to “Take What I Can Get”, the first single off their newly released album “Austin Bottom Road” to which the lead singer Monique Staffile dedicated the song to all the cowboys in the house.
The group followed it up with “To Life” and “My Backyard” while throwing out promotional t-shirts and hats in the crowd. Staffile then addressed the audience, “Has anyone ever had to fire somebody from a job or just get rid of somebody in your life? If so, this next song is for you” she shouted as the band all contributed to provide an eclectic sound of guitars, banjo and even a jaw harp played by the bassist while performing “Deep Six”. To stir things up, the band threw in a cover song that would have made the group “Queen” proud. The mic was handed off to the drummer as he took the lead in singing Freddy Mercury’s “Fat Bottom Girls” while the rest of the band members jumped in to provide the perfect harmony. With his curly hair flying around his face to the same vigor that he was beating the drums it gave you the impression that this band is perfecting the balance between rock and country.
The band’s next song “Be Mah Lover” started off with a slightly faster drum beat similar to the sound of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean”, which was appropriate given the King of Pop’s recent passing, and transitioned into their own sound as the rhythm guitar and pedal steel riffed into a beat that complimented the lyrics about taking cover in the act of love. The band ended on a high night with “Anything Goes” which explains the attitude this New York band has adopted in giving up their homes to travel the road together in pursuit of their dream to record music. The crowd was left in awe by the band’s energetic rock-n-roll meets country style and the only question left on our minds is when will this band will be returning to Chicago as a headlining act in country music?
Keith Anderson - As Her and Kings Country departed the stage the audience waited in anticipation for the night’s final act. As the next band took the stage the audience started clapping and calling on Anderson to make his entrance. He walked out wearing his famous bandana and black cowboy hat and sported a skull ring on his left hand representing his bad boy nature.
To get the crowd rowdy Anderson started his setlist with “C’mon” followed by “XXL”. At the end of the song he took a few moments to talk to the crowd. “You all ready to party with us? You better get your beer!” Anderson shouted as the band transitioned into “Podunk”. To slow things down Anderson sung “Lost In This Moment With You” a song he penned but made famous by the country duo Big and Rich. When the song ended Anderson asked the audience if they were drinking beer to which the audience cheered loudly. He commented on the fact that the next song was the first song he recorded and how country music has changed his life and as he proceeded to sing “Beer Run” the crowd participated by singing B-double-E-Double-R-U-N. When the song ended Anderson spoke of a story in which a buddy of his ate all the food and drank all the liquor on his bus, so it forced him to sing the original version of that very same song. Anderson and his band again played “Beer Run” and as the beat of the song sped up, the liveliness of the crowd heightened with an explosion of energy while they were moving their feet and spilling their beer to keep up with the pace.
Anderson then sang “Crazy Over You”, a song off his new album “C’mon”. Before playing the intro into his next song Anderson asked the audience if anyone was having a bad day. “Do you know what’s good for a bad day? Beer!” he shouted as he proceeded to sing “Somebody Needs A Hug”. Fans lifted up signs urging Anderson to come down off the stage to give them a hug but the best show they got was when he exited off the stage and his rhythm guitarist walked out center stage and bent down to give one of the fans a hug. After a short break Anderson walked back on stage and started shaking hands with the audience before breaking into “Everytime I Hear Your Name” followed up by “Break My Heart”. Anderson commented how his first CD sold 500,000 copies but his second CD has not climbed the same numbers so he asked the audience to help his cause and purchase a copy at the merchandise table.
He then introduced the band in which each member sang 30 seconds of a cover song while showcasing their talents on the various instruments that support that sound of Anderson’s songs. The drummer opened up by playing “Detroit Rock City” by Kiss, the bass guitarist was next in line singing “Some Kind of Wonderful” recorded by The Drifters. The keyboard player stepped it up by singing Don Henley’s hit song “Boys of Summer”, an appropriate tune for a hot summer night in Chicago. The Acoustic guitar player sang “Walk Away” by The James Gang which was followed up with the rhythm guitarist playing “La Grange” by ZZ Top. Afterwards, Anderson spoke of how the rhythm guitarist had survived cancer, witnessed the birth of his son, and sang the national anthem for the Cubs at Wrigley Field. When he walked off the field he was crying and said that was the best moment of his life. Anderson then yelled “That was for all you Cub fans out there” and asked the audience to cheer for their favorite Chicago team, to which both the Cubs and the Sox received an equal amount of applause. In the end, the Chicago Bears won.
Anderson ended the show by dedicating “Three Chord Country and American Rock & Roll” to all the people from a small town. But this night wasn’t over as the shouts from the audience brought Anderson and band back to the stage for an encore. He began with his famous ballad “I Still Miss You” and followed it up with “Wrap Around”. Before singing the last song of the night Anderson again asked the audience to stop by the merchandise table before their departure and assured them they had everything to sell from cd’s to t-shirts to “Somebody Needs A Hug” panties. “Folks, let me just tell you, I tried them all on and I can assure you that they are comfortable”. Before he could start the chords of this final song “Pickin’ Wildflowers” the female members in the audience were screaming loudly. So much so that Anderson had to stifle the laughter that arose so he could finish the song. There were even some female fans in the audience wearing bee hats in hopes to pick Keith’s wildflower. As the show ended Anderson thanked the audience, Joe’s Bar and US 99.5 for playing his songs. He then took 30 minutes to sign autographs and was very cordial about posing for pictures while the fans shot their cameras off making him a collective favorite in Chicago.