Rob Thomas and Counting Crows set fire to the Queen City
Co-headliner tours are making their rounds in Charlotte this summer and last night’s show was one the Queen City won’t soon forget. The Counting Crows, Rob Thomas, and K Phillips were here and set the city ablaze.
Texas sweetheart K Phillips took the stage first, but not before a goofy-grinned Rob Thomas skipped onto stage to surprise the crowd with a brief introduction.
“Charlotte!” he yelled into the mic, startling me as he came out of the depths of the stage lights and boxes unexpectedly. “Welcome to the show! Here’s K Phillips.”
The denim-clad singer tipped his straw cap as Thomas ran off, although didn’t go far as he stood just off stage to watch the man perform. Around K Phillips was his band, your typical bass-guitar-drum set up, but sittin’ pretty to the side was one lone backup singer. I’m not too familiar with K Phillips’ work, but I hope he and his backup singer provide vocals for his album tracks because their voices intertwined beautifully. Although his set was short, he transitioned between songs quickly and flawlessly, completely engulfing the audience in his classic Americana sound. Songs both old and new were performed and loved by the crowd, who were steadily filling in the seats as the show continued.
Rather uneventfully, K Phillips’ set ended and he began to clear the stage. The band retrieved their gear while Thomas’ crew uncovered his set. The first half the night was about to unfold and the crowd was loving every second of it. They scattered quickly for beer and merch but returned in record time for one of the most well-known music moguls in the industry.
German-born, American-favorite Rob Thomas truly doesn’t need an introduction. If you’ve been even remotely in-tune with pop culture over the past twenty years, you’ll know that Thomas, of Matchbox Twenty, has been a titan of the industry since the mid-90’s and remains a steady vessel of music into 2016. As a singer, songwriter, and music producer, Thomas is no stranger to the art of performing and it showed last night at the PNC Music Pavilion.
The show felt more like a jam session than a formal concert. Thomas and his band calmly strolled onto stage, all wearing a hundred-watt smile. The women around me screamed and swooned, reverting back into their teenaged selves (much like I did at the twenty one pilots show so who was I to judge?). It was then that I noticed the crowd’s age was slightly older than the people at shows I’ve been attending these days, but the energy was just the same. Thomas’ set wasn’t as fast paced as K Phillips’, but that might have been because of the heat. At one point, while taking a Snapchat for the Shutter16 account, I used the temperature filter and it read 99 degrees. Are you kidding me?!
“It’s almost sarcastically hot,” said Thomas as he chugged his water. “This stopped being cold hours ago. I could make tea with this water now.”
I believed him. Regardless, the heat didn’t stop the crowd from dancing, whether they were doing so standing up or sitting down.
Highlight of the middle-aged women’s night: when Thomas took off his shirt, paraded around stage, and put on a clean, sweat-free (for now) new one.
Hit after hit after hit was played as he jumped around stage and Charlotte ate it up. I never realized how many songs Thomas had on the radio until last night! His band, backup vocalists and musicians alike, danced just as chaotically as Thomas did and it was quite a sight. Near the end of his set, Thomas brought out his son to play on a few of his tracks and everyone’s heart melted (sun or sweetness, who knows).
Thomas closed out the night with crowd-favorite “This Is How A Heart Breaks” before exiting off stage. Arms spread wide, as if to hug the entire city, Thomas blew kisses to the audience and thanked them endlessly. Again, the crowd scurried out of their seats for a beer-refill or snack break before the final act of the night took the stage. I consider myself a casual fan of both Thomas and Counting Crows, but was pleasantly surprised at how many songs I knew. Thank you, radio!
The California seven-piece took the stage next and put on a show I thought I’d never see. My first dose of the Counting Crows happened when I was scrolling through MySpace in high school (you know, when it used to be a mega-platform for music sharing). I was obsessed with Vegas-native Panic! At The Disco and happened upon their cover of “Round Here.” I’d never heard of the Counting Crows but Panic was into them so hey, I should be too, right? I gave the cover a listen and fell in love with song. I would have never guessed that years later, I’d be seeing it live.
I stopped listening past their radio hits but there was something surreal about seeing legendary artists like Rob Thomas or Counting Crows in front of me. When you’ve been around as long as the Counting Crows have been, basically everyone will become familiar with your material.
The crowd’s vibe was just as energetic for these guys as they were for Thomas and if I had to guess, it had something to do with the beer-refill. No one got too sloppy, but the sudden burst of revived energy certainly didn’t come from the sun!
The sun set just after Thomas’ set and by the time the next act came out, it was dark and cooling off. This only made for a more perfect environment to dance in as the stage lights were more visible. Hits like “Round Here,” “Mr. Jones,” and “Miami” were performed and the crowd was all about it. At one point, Adam Duritz told the crowd they were going “to kick it up a notch” and I literally laughed out loud. What?! How much more can we kick it up?!
Oh, they found a way. The audience and the band were on the same page as the dances moves got more energetic and the band’s smiles got wider. I’ve never seen a group of people look so comfortable on stage.
Charlotte sure does love the Counting Crows and Rob Thomas, and I’m sure they’d be keen to have them back soon. As they left the stage, the crowd begged for them to return, even after their encore. I attempted to leave after the exited the stage, but I seemed to be the only one. The crowd was hellbent on getting these guys back on stage! Unfortunately for them, it didn’t happen but I still saw smiles all around. People gathered in the parking lot to reminisce about what happened mere minutes ago and lawn chairs were set up behind trucks; a whole different party was about to go down.
It was a bit of a culture shock to go to a show like this as everyone was so laid back; if more shows were like this, I think we’d all have a better time!
Catch the Counting Crows and Rob Thomas featuring K Phillips on tour for the rest of the summer; this is only the beginning! Find the remaining dates here.
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