Concert Review: Candlebox Live at Cubby Bear (Friday, 1.18.13 in Chicago)

Concert Review: Candlebox Live at Cubby Bear (Friday, 1.18.13 in Chicago)

Friday night at Cubby Bear, nineties nostalgia reigned supreme as Candlebox performed a surprising number of hits from their self-titled, debut album... 

2013 looks to be a big year for Candlebox as the band celebrates the twentieth anniversary of their debut album and tours in support of April's Love Stories & Other Musings, their fifth.

Frontman Kevin Martin, who was actually born in Elgin, looked back Friday on the band's nineties performances throughout the city at larger venues like Metro, the Aragon Ballroom and U.I.C. Pavilion with a sense of humor that bordered at times on justifiable bitterness.

Following their formation and ultimate emergence from a Seattle grunge scene that also spawned Soundgarden, Nirvana, etc., Candlebox never deserved the hard time they received from the grunge faithful who considered their music (and their hair) a watered down take on the Seattle sound and look.

It was a reaction that always struck me as odd given Seattle's history of producing rock oriented acts like Queensrÿche.  Even Alice in Chains, and especially Pearl Jam, have very clear classic rock influences and they always have.  Alice in Chains' Facelift album teeters on the brink of metal while Jar of Flies is clearly influenced by Led Zeppelin.  Jerry Cantrell has jammed with Heart, Cobain covered Bowie and Eddie Vedder makes no effort to hide his affinity for artists like Bruce Springsteen and Pete Townshend.

Yet, nevertheless, the backlash toward Candlebox was strong and even by their second album, sales began to drop.  Label squabbles followed and the band ultimately went on hiatus around 2000.

But contrary to popular belief, they never really went away and by 2006 had resurfaced for shows with an album (Into the Sun) following in 2008.

Make no mistake, despite touring in support of an album only nine months old, Friday's show at Cubby Bear was all about the 1993 Candlebox album, one that went quadruple platinum and spawned three top ten hits beginning in late 1993.

Martin informed the crowd early that the only song they wouldn't hear from the debut was "Rain" and he stuck to it, playing the rest of that album over the course of Friday night's set at Cubby Bear.  "Mother's Dream" set a rocking tone early and the hits soon followed with "Change" coming shortly thereafter.

"Simple Lessons," from the band's underrated, gold selling second album Lucy was one of the highlights of the set.  It's aggression was warranted as the sold out, Wrigleyville crowd continued what appeared to be a long day of drinking, shouting and general stupidity that translated into a frustratingly short attention span and general lack of concertgoing tact or respect for space (a behavior that didn't appear to be lost on Martin who called attention to it multiple times).

"Into the Sun" preceded "Simple Lessons," which Martin called one of his favorites from the 2008 album.  Later, performing as a quintet, the band paused during "Far Behind" to tease fans with a bit of Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."

"Come on you drunk sons of b-tches!" yelled Martin as the band retook the stage for an encore working the crowd into a frenzy with an energetic rendition of arguably their biggest hit, "You."

It's easy to call Candlebox's set at Cubby Bear a return to form but ultimately it's just not accurate because Candlebox really never went away.  Friday night, Martin and company seemed hellbent on reminding fans just that.

Leave a comment