After seeing Blue October no less than 10 times, you’d think another concert would leave me unimpressed. Not the case; not at all. In fact, as I walked out of the Trocadero Theatre in Philadelphia last Friday night, I was more impressed and impressed upon than ever by the musical experience that is Justin Furstenfeld and Blue October.
The Blue October concert experience is hard to describe to those who haven’t experienced it. After thinking about it all weekend, I’ve come to the conclusion that spending a night with Furstenfeld and his band mates is more like going to church than a concert; that the experience makes one appreciate the flaws in humanity because there’s also an implied hope for salvation; that whatever darkness exists in each of us (and we all have something) isn’t a fatal flaw, but something we can learn from and overcome.
Certainly Furstenfeld’s personal experience is a riveting influence in Blue October lyrics. He delivers each lyric with a sincerity that is hard to ignore. But that sincerity also allows every person in the room to feel the lyrics themselves – fully and personally – because they are so universally written about common human emotions that you can’t help but feel them. Themes of fear and insecurity, and anger and weakness all echo through Furstenfeld’s words. But there are also promises of love and support, and redemption and power. All of these emotions are not only proclaimed in the carefully constructed lyrics, but echoed in the power of music – drums and bass and guitar and violin – that are orchestrated beautifully to tell a story that goes from being forceful and angry to sincere and romantic in one fell swoop.
Look around the room at a Blue October concert and you will find a span of ages – pierced and tattooed teens mixed with seasoned fans in their 60s who have been following the band since its start. All are plugged into the honest delivery of the music and lyric, to the emotion of a band that is seemingly connected to the essence of what makes us all human. As an example, I watched one young woman who knelt at the edge of the balcony during Furstenfeld’s delivery of “Fear” with tears just streaming down her face. But when Furstenfeld sang out “get back up,” she did – with a conviction in herself so powerful it brought even me to tears, wondering what demons she battles and proud of her willingness to fight them.
The Blue October concert experience is not for the weak of heart. It is characterized by a veracity about the human condition that is hard to ignore and Furstenfeld’s sincere appreciation of the fans that flock to shows is real and palpable. When he is joined on stage by the strong and talented musicians that make up Blue October, the live performance is one that leaves me breathless. It is not to be missed.