Collective Soul Celebrates 22 Yrs, 9th Studio Release With A Stop At Emo’s

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7 year wait for new record is over for Collective Soul

Collective Soul has been at this now for over 22 years, and frontman Ed Roland looks like he’s having the time of his life as he gets to push new material off the new cd ” See What You Started By Continuing”, the band’s first release in a long 7 years. They are in the midst of pulling off a grueling 40 city US tour before several dates in South America. Emo’s was the location, built on the nearby grave of The Back Room and it was hard to figure out why the event was there when this act has charted 7 Number Ones and should be filling larger venues. Has their popularity shrunk that drastically since the heyday of the band with the original members? I hope not, they are still vibrant, creating fresh new music, and are by no such thing an Oldies Act. Sprinkling in the big hits kept the audience around, a good thing, since the material from the new album seemed to test the attendees patience. They came for the hits, and the hardcore C.S. Faithful came to support the new record. I have been fond of this band over the years and have missed the several times they’ve paraded thru Austin. It’s nice to see them pushing fresh material again.
Collective Soul popped onto the scene in 1993 with a huge hit called “Shine”, as the story goes, a demo tape that Roland made with no intention of releasing found its way to a DJ, and then to radio station WJJR in Orlando, Florida, which began to play it in their rotation. It caught fire and eventually Atlantic Records pulled them into their stable of stars. A string of well-selling records followed, with each record milked for addicting pop rock tunes. Guitarist Ross Childress left the band at the end of the Atlantic recording contract and was replaced by band guitar tech Joel Kosche. Kosche left the band in 2015 and was replaced by new fret-burner Jesse Triplett. Triplett gave his earnest best. He had great dynamics and knew when to turn on the juice. I miss Kosche’s work. His playing seemed an easier fit, but that’s more about the past sound than current.

The band came out to the eager audience and played for almost 2 hours, hitting stride after the rather subdued opening number “December ” . Of all the great tunes, it was a wonder why they chose this one to warm up on. “Precious Declaration” followed, and the mix was muddy and one could barely pick up Roland’s vocals as it seemed either the wireless mic was picking up deadspots or the performance was odd and off-kilter. Roland sounded more like Jim Dandy, of all people, from Black Oak Arkansas on this cut. The rousing “Heavy ” came after, and the mood improved quickly, as did the mix. Then it was time to spring new material on the audience. “Hurricane” was pretty intense, giving a good impression that Roland hasn’t lost his pop-rock edge. It was followed by the new single, “This”, and then ” ATYA[ Are You The Answer]” on it’s heels. Since few had purchased the new cd as it has only been out for little over a month , it was bit much fora few of the fans who were there for the big songs, and a treat for those who have been exposed to the new material, which is more akin to the band’s earlier sound in their 22 year stride.

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New guitarist Jesse Triplett was an unstoppable force[photo Stan Martin]

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Frontman Ed Rollins of Collective Soul [photo Stan Martin]

“Why,pt 2” was kickass, followed by the weak “Just Looking Around “,which seemed like, well, a demo,in their own words.

“Exposed” came back on the heels of that to great audience response. “Better Now” was followed by the rocking “Contagious ” which is the best tune off the new album, it was played with a unified band zeal that kept the train a rollin’, then things hit a lull ditch for a few songs and rebounded strongly with the big number “World I Know”, “Confession” ,” Gel”, “Where The River Flows”, and the biggest one, ” Shine”, had the audience was clearly in rapture. The show ended on a partial take of the moldy Bad Company standard ” Feel Like Makin’ Love” which segued into the monster hit “Run”. Roland looked much relaxed on stage clad in sweaty t-shirt as he moved fluidly from the mic to acoustic guitar and keys. He’s animated, knows how to keep the listeners engaged. At one point he asked if anyone in the audience had the new cd, and if they’d like it signed by the band. Yes, someone did, and so the show was stopped momentarily while signatures were procured. That was cool. That is how you keep your fans. And Roland has done a remarkable job of doing just that over the decades.
Weak moments? This band partly made its name off the vocal prowess that backed Roland over the years. Many of the ballads are rich with harmonies that are on the records. And tonight it was largely missing. Noticeably. I also don’t need continued audience participation themes to cover weak choruses that only the bass player was able to help out on. I came to hear Roland sing, not the 50-ish drunken Hodor clone standing next to me who bellowed like a walrus. Any grumblings by this author were forgiven by a spirited version of “Shine”, which along with the closing song, the enchanting ” Run”, are two pop backbones that this band has written over the years that are high water marks and timeless. They were performed as expected, and did not disappoint.

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Collective Soul is touring behind the new 2015 release [photo Stan Martin]

Collective Soul’s new record will please the fan base who have waited for nearly 7 years for Rollins and company to add to their repertoire of radio-friendly hits. The new cd has 11 tracks and meshes well with the previous 8 mega-selling releases.

The venue Emo’s is also miles above what it once used to be on 6th Street, formerly a piss- beer smelling hallmark of grunge, it has now morphed into a classy, cavernous joint off East Riverside. No seating to speak of outside of some scant bleacher seats and an outdoor beer garden, and the vibe is all music with its impressive deck of lights, half-acre stage, and room to roam feel. It’s Liberty Lunch without the tables and murals. Ok, I exaggerate…little. It’s got dancing space a-plenty. The band played to a variety of stage lighting effects, the best being early on, with a purple glow and light fog enveloping the stage. It was all eye candy, promptly followed by ear candy. I look forward to visiting soon again.

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