First thing's first: Hootie & the Blowfish are the single greatest band to ever come out of South Carolina. (Writer’s note: IDK any other bands from South Carolina.)
Lead singer Darius Rucker has been a successful solo country star for over a decade now and was just in town opening for one of Garth Brooks’ U.S. Bank shows in May. (Not the one I was at, which is pretty rude but... OK.) Then the band got back together in June for what they’re calling the Group Therapy tour, which they brought to a sold-out State Fair Grandstand last night. The fact that both Barenaked Ladies and Hootie & the Blowfish can pull crowds like this in the year of our Lord 2019 is beyond me, but here we are.
I was buying Hootie merch during Barenaked Ladies’ set but from what I could hear they were pretty good. They played hits like “One Week” of course and that annoying song from The Big Bang Theory, which sounded really awful live, like it should only be played on TV (and honestly maybe not even then). But then they jumped right into an awesome medley of “Shallow,” “Old Town Road,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Another One Bites The Dust,” and your parents all danced badly.
Following a dramatic recording from Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction (his RANGE!), Hootie & the Blowfish hit the stage. And after a couple songs the band spoke about opening up for the Allman Brothers at the Target Center way back when and playing First Avenue in the past as well. (Do they have a star at First Avenue? If not, please sign my petition.)
Along with their own songs, the band gave us covers like Led Zeppelin’s “Hey Hey What Can I Do,” which they’d recorded nearly 20 years ago for their Scattered, Smothered, and Covered album. (Which is not only a classic, but also the only way you should ever get you hash browns at Waffle House.)
As they played old faves from Cracked Rear View, vintage tour flyers and candid pics of the band took over the back screens, and honestly maybe I didn’t notice how hot the drummer was back then because I was a child when I first started listening to the band and acquiring their music through my numerous Columbia House CD scams, but OMG! He’s bald now, but like... still hot? So good for him!
Overall a pretty good showing from a band that really hasn’t missed a step—Darius’ incredibly prosperous country career has probably gained them even more fans. Toward the end of the set they even did “Wagon Wheel,” the Old Crow Medicine Show song Rucker had a hit with. Not bad for a band with over 30 years under their belt, and you better believe I’ll be there in the front row for their Retirement Home tour in another 30 years.
Overheard in the crowd:
Darius: “We live in the greatest country in the world.”
Ladies behind me: “NO WE DON’T!”
Standout songs: “I Go Blind,” “I Only Wanna Be With You,” and “Let Her Cry,” complete with giant rainy Waffle House imagery, which is so symbolic of all the times I’ve cried in Waffle Houses across the South throughout my lifetime. There was even an R.E.M. moment: a cover of “Losing My Religion” complete with Michael Stipe arm-flailing from Darius and everything.