Better Than: Solo acts at Mallory Square in Key West that rely on their money-fetching dog to provide the show.
"Who, what, when, where, why, how much?"
- "Stupid Questions," Breathe
After a playful instrumental warm-up, these were the questions posed by Keller Williams as he kicked off the evening with his classic "Stupid Questions" off his staple album, Breathe. (He also performed the title song of this album, which was recorded with support of jam icons String Cheese Incident, later in the evening.)
Who? was easy. Who was the collective. Obviously Keller and his one-man-band was the main attraction on this night. However, looking around at the knowing smirks on experienced faces as well as the expressions of wonderment on others newer to the K-Dub freak show, this was to be an evening of performer/crowd interaction.
What? is simple. For this occasion, the multi-instrumentalist came with a scaled-down set-up composed of a drum machine, bass, acoustic, electric, and 12-string guitars. It was all tied together with his trusty sidekick, a Gibson Echoplex Delay looping machine.
"We're all gonna die...with no time to borrow.
We're all gonna die...eventually.
Let's pretend its tomorrow."
- "Enviromental Song," Odd
A common theme in Keller tunes is living in the moment, so when? and where? equals the here and now. For those who have a hard time escaping boundaries of time and space, we may further define it as Friday night at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale.
Keller is a self-professed music fan above all else. That is why crowds of fellow music lovers flock to his performances so enthusiastically. And so he chose fan favorites as well as deeper cuts for his set lists. Songs included originals like "People Watchin'" and "Cadillac," from Dream, as well as "Lost" and "Elephorse" off his newest release, Odd. Anticipating new Keller songs (to me anyway), I was pleased to hear a funktified snowboard anthem, "Floating on the Freshies," and another more political tune, straying from his usual laissez-faire style, inspiring a mass sing-along and inciting overt hilarity. "Rush Limaugh, you're an asshole. You're the free speech alpha male," he sang. "Rush Limbaugh, you're an asshole. Big old douche bag, I hope you fail."
Then, dedicating it to local bass legend Jaco Pastorius, Keller performed "Novelty Song." Its funny, nonsensical lyrics keep returning to the chorus and theme at hand and remind us to "focus on the bass." A very cool take of Morphine's "Buena," a great example of his obscure covers, jammed into the middle of this particular version. A not-so-obscure cover also appeared in the first set: Marcy Playground's "Sex and Candy."
The crowd was clearly digging the show, and the energy was tremendous when Keller touched on favorites by other jam giants. These included the Grateful Dead's "St. Stephen" in the first set, and Phish's "Birds of a Feather," during the second, prompting the crowd to truly flock together.
Personal Bias: Make sure to check out my interview with Keller that ran here last week.
By the Way:
Check out the Keller Williams portrait by visual artist Schliff at schliff.com