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Sunday, 09 March 2014 13:40

Concert review: Jamming all night long with Keller Williams at the Pageant, Friday, March 7

Concert review: Jamming all night long with Keller Williams at the Pageant, Friday, March 7 / C. Taylor Crothers
Written by Liz Schranck
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As I made my way into the Pageant to see Keller Williams and More Than a Little, I realized almost immediately that I was underdressed. How could I forget to wear a beanie? And maybe a tie-dyed shirt? Or most importantly, to take my shoes off?

After all, I was there to see one of the most unique individuals in the music industry perform.

It was time to get a little weird, time to get funky.

Currently on tour with More Than a Little, Keller took the stage promptly at 8 p.m., his hair as shaggy as ever, wearing a black t-shirt and kahki pants, shoeless; his bass guitar suspended on a stand stage right; his electric suspended stage left, his other favorite gadgets center stage with his microphone.

It takes a certain kind of musician to be able to open for himself. Keller began the night with what I like to call "Keller classics": tunes like "Freshies," "I Love California," and covers of some of the greats like "Sweet Virginia," by the Rolling Stones. While singing "I Love California," he changed it at the end and sang: "I Love Missouri." Immediately, everyone's hands went up. This was just the beginning. All the while, Keller was looping like a mad man, ultimately contributing between four and seven instruments to the tunes, and harmonizing on his own vocals. He knows how to put on a show, that man.

Keller left stage for a bit and the house lights came up after the set ended. The fog machine kept at it, and a few clouds of smoke began to rise over the crowd in the pit. Whether it was the fog traveling strangely or something else, I couldn't be sure.

Many fans ran to the merchandise table to grab a t-shirt or one of Keller's 18 albums.

Yes, 18. I counted.

At 9:38 p.m., the bassist started to jam solo from offstage. Finally, he danced his way out center, his shades on and his afro a foot out from his head. It was a good way to psych up the crowd, needless to say. Next, the keyboardist joined in. This particular musician I was beyond impressed with; his impeccable solo skills and jazzy contributions to the Keller tunes played later in the night turned out to be a refreshing addition to the group. The drummer entered and joined on the tune while the two female vocalists settled in on stage right and stage left. Last, but not least, Keller arrived in a suit and purple tie…. Shoeless.

Keller in a suit. A sight to see, my friends.

The crowd began to sway and bop their heads as the band came into full "jam mode." It was clear this band was going to deliver.

They started with "Hey Ho Jorge," the three part harmonies ringing out in all their glory, followed by "Psycho Killer" by Talking Heads.

By now, the Pageant was packed, the pit filled wall to wall with Kelller's most devout fans with their arms outstretched toward the stage. Everyone was dancing like no one was watching, or judging; there was not a false note in the room. The vibe was spectacular.

The band brought a new dynamic to Keller's tunes -- the keyboardist, bassist, and drummer exercising their soloing skills on Keller's cue. We all know he's a very capable musician. That much was clear as his hands flew at incredible speeds up and down the bridge of his guitar. But, his soloing skills can be somewhat lacking, and that's where his band picks up the slack for a fresh new take.

One crowd favorite of the night was a song that started with Keller singing: "My friends are so big and black." His bandmates shook their hips a little more seriously as they looked out to the cheering crowd.

I thought to myself how hilarious Keller is as I looked at him surrounded by his big and black companions onstage. His vocalists both with bangin' afros, one in the tightest, sheerest red dress I've ever seen and six inch heels, and the other sitting pretty in her chair with her foot stool, spouting sassy lines at the audience during jam breaks.

I made my way down to the pit, ready to try and dance in the crowd of people. As soon as I got there I realized that would be difficult without entering other people's bubbles.

Who was I kidding? These people didn't give a shit about bubbles. One guy repeatedly asked me if I was trying to grab his butt. The first two times I politely told him no. Finally, for a change of pace, the third time I told him "yes," at which point he rewarded me with a high-five.

The jamming continued. The band performed "Feel Like a Stranger" by the Grateful Dead along with other great covers like "Doo-Wop (That Thing)" by Lauryn Hill.

By the end of the show, fans still hadn't had enough. Three hours of pure jamming didn't quench their Keller thirst.

Though, I'm not sure if three days would have.

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