The Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Jams at The ChopShop

Chris Robinson used to be the frontman of the now defunct Black Crowes, known for the singles “Hard to Handle,” “Twice as Hard” and “She Talks to Angels.” Only one of these songs — “Hard to Handle” — was performed on Saturday night. Clearly Mr. Robinson isn’t a man who likes to waddle in his own past. His music however does live in a previous time. The Brotherhood is probably most often compared to The Grateful Dead. This makes sense, considering a 15-minute song is normal for them but, especially when they make use of vocal harmonies, I think they have more in common with The Band than the Dead. Regardless of whichever comparison you decide to go with, their unhurried songs beckon you to live at a slower tempo and truly take in the moment.

The Black Crowes sold out venues far larger than The Chop Shop but watching Chris play, grinning randomly during songs and taking swigs from his bottle of booze, you get the feeling he prefers a more intimate setting. He’s there FOR the audience and gives and a crowd what they pay for, and then some. [Unfortunately, this is an attitude which isn’t always present in others who rose to rock stardom in the ‘90s. I’m looking at you Billy Corgan.] And perhaps the audience continues to show up for the Chris Robinson Brotherhood because they realize it isn’t really a rehash of the Crowes but rather the next stage of evolution in Robinson’s artistry.

Hopefully I’m not making this sound like it is nothing more than a vehicle for Robinson. No, it’s a real full-fledged band with each member serving an essential piece of the puzzle. Two parts of the jigsaw stood out in particular: Adam MacDougall and Neal Casal. MacDougall knows how to lay down a sweet motherfucker of a psychedelic solo on the keyboard. As for guitarist Casal, he never gets super flashy. Obviously he is a man of great technical skill but his playing is tasteful and always serves the song. He frequently opted out of moments that many a musician would have used for showboating and led the songs in directions I didn’t expect.

The Brotherhood is the real deal. They played for eighty minutes and took a forty-five minute break. Excessive perhaps but then they came back out to play for around an hour and a half. If you’re into jam bands — and I am usually not, they’re an exception for me — you will get your money’s worth. My only hope, for the future of their songwriting, is that Robinson will incorporate more moments for his soulful voice to shine. I will go as far as saying that they are indeed the better band than the Black Crowes. But a lyrical moment on par with “She Talks to Angels” would be nice now and then. That’s my one and only gripe. Check them out next time they come to your town. They make time slow down in the best possible way.

See them on tour:

Date Venue Location Tickets
Sep 18 The Town Ballroom Buffalo, NY Tickets RSVP Share
Sep 19 Beachland Ballroom & Tavern Cleveland, OH Sold Out RSVP Share
Sep 20 Beachland Ballroom & Tavern Cleveland, OH Tickets RSVP Share
Sep 22 Mercury Ballroom Louisville, KY Tickets RSVP Share
Sep 24 20th Century Theater Cincinnati, OH Tickets RSVP Share
Sep 25 Smith Opera House Geneva, NY Tickets RSVP Share
Sep 26 Speed Of Sound Festival Wappingers Falls, NY Tickets RSVP Share
Sep 27 Mr. Small’s Theatre Millvale, PA Tickets RSVP Share
Sep 29 Crofoot Ballroom Pontiac, MI Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 01 Old Rock House Saint Louis, MO Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 02 Thalia Hall Chicago, IL Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 03 Majestic Theatre Madison, WI Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 04 Turner Hall Ballroom Milwaukee, WI Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 06 3rd & Lindsley Nashville, TN Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 08 Iron City Birmingham, AL Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 09 Duling Hall Jackson, MS Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 10 Tipitina’s New Orleans, LA Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 13 Varsity Theatre Baton Rouge, LA Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 15 Warehouse Live Houston, TX Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 16 Scoot Inn Austin, TX Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 17 Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill Dallas, TX Tickets RSVP Share
Oct 18 Paper Tiger San Antonio, TX Tickets RSVP Share
Nov 03 Orange Peel Asheville, NC Tickets RSVP Share
Nov 05 Variety Playhouse Atlanta, GA Tickets RSVP Share
Nov 06 The Music Farm Charleston, SC Tickets RSVP Share
Nov 07 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, NC Tickets RSVP Share
Nov 08 Lincoln Theatre Raleigh, NC Tickets RSVP Share
Nov 17 9:30 Club Washington, DC Tickets RSVP Share
Nov 19 Brooklyn Bowl Brooklyn, NY Tickets RSVP Share
Nov 20 Brooklyn Bowl Brooklyn, NY Tickets RSVP Share
Nov 21 Brooklyn Bowl Brooklyn, NY Tickets RSVP Share
Nov 22 Theatre Of The Living Arts Philadelphia, PA Tickets RSVP Share
Dec 03 City Winery Napa, CA Tickets RSVP Share
Dec 04 Harlow’s Sacramento, CA Tickets RSVP Share
Dec 05 Crystal Bay Club Crown Room Crystal Bay, NV Tickets RSVP Share
Dec 06 Cocoanut Grove Santa Cruz, CA Tickets RSVP Share
Dec 09 El Rey Theatre Los Angeles, CA Tickets RSVP Share
Dec 10 Lobero Theatre Santa Barbara, CA Tickets RSVP Share
Dec 11 The Fillmore San Francisco, CA Tickets RSVP Share
Dec 12 The Fillmore San Francisco, CA Tickets RSVP Share
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