I ventured out of my campus apartment on Tuesday night to go see Howie Day at the Ark. I must admit, I’m not even a huge Howie Day fan. The only reason I recognized his name was because pretty much everyone has heard his song, “Collide,” at some point, myself included. I’ve been wanting to go to The Ark to see a show since I moved to Ann Arbor last year, but unfortunately I rarely recognize the artists that play there. So when I finally saw an artist’s name I had seen before, I jumped at the chance to check out this local concert venue.
First I must say, I was really pleased with the atmosphere of The Ark. If you haven’t been there before, it’s very relaxed. Everyone was very polite and laid-back–staff, volunteers, fellow concert-goers. Sometimes going to a concert can be stressful, with the crowds and crazy fans and mean-looking security guards, etc. Not so at The Ark. My only complaint however, for those of you who are over 21, is that you have to purchase a membership in order to buy a drink at the bar. They try to sell you a membership while you’re standing at the bar looking at the menu, but I know I won’t be coming back to The Ark frequently–that would make for a pretty expensive drink.
That being said, Howie Day is a pretty great performer. Despite not knowing any of his songs, I didn’t get bored for a moment during the concert. He is pretty funny and interacted a lot with the audience. Where acoustic songs can start to sound the same after a while, one after the other, he used samplers and effects pedals (which I had to look up on Wiki to find out exactly what it was called!), which is basically a system that allows him to record himself live then play it back immediately, layering tracks to accompany himself, to mix things up a bit. I was immediately impressed–it was so cool!
Here is the best example I could find on youtube of him using this live. Check it out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UttDDxRsFno
As much as I loved this initially, he used it A LOT throughout the night, to the point where all of the songs started to blend together. It sort of seemed to defeat its purpose. I’m sure as a solo acoustic performer he gets bored playing the same songs night after night, and he sure seems to enjoy using the layered tracks during his performance. However, this technique ended up seeming a bit more for his enjoyment than for the audience. I was really excited to hear more of his songs, since I was hearing them for the first time, but unfortunately several of the songs were long and drawn out because he kept layering tracks and building the music long after the song was finished. And for those who are big Howie Day fans and already know all of his songs, several of them were shouting out requests from the audience, most of which he never get around to playing because he had his own agenda.
I can’t say I’ve been converted to a big fan of Howie Day after seeing him live. I went back and listened to some of his recorded songs, and I just can’t get really into any of them. But he is a really entertaining performer, and worth going to see live, if for no other reason than to experience the famous “Collide” live in person.