90s rock made a full-grown appearance with Hootie & the Blowfish inside the Toyota Amphitheater on Friday night. Joined by Canada’s Barenaked Ladies, Darius Rucker and company brought the 2019 Group Therapy Tour—the Grammy Award-winning band’s first full tour in over a decade—to a full house in Wheatland.
While Barenaked Ladies did their best to keep the Hootie crowd entertained in the beginning of the evening, their antics did not seem to match the particular crowd in attendance. Nonetheless, vocalist/guitarist Ed Robertson, drummer Tyler Stewart, keyboardist Kevin Hearn and bassist Jim Creeggan played their handful of well-known hits to which fans lightly cheered along.
For a band that seems to have been a lot of fun in their heyday, Friday’s showing was a little hard to watch at times. When the show started to pick up during 2017’s “Lookin’ Up,” the band brought out Mexican sombreros, which seemed to be very out of place, similar to a string of shaky covers that included Lady Gaga’s “Shallow,” Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” and Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode.”
Interestingly, the period when drummer Tyler Stewart and vocalist Ed Robertson switched roles stood out as the most compelling. Robertson would cover Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” with a powerful voice that deserves more of a spotlight, which just might come as the band is currently working on a new album.
By the time Hootie & the Blowfish made it on stage, fans were ready to rock. With a personalized vocal introduction from ‘Pulp Fiction’s’ infamous Jules Winnfield, the curtain dropped and fans collectively got on their feet, for what seemed the loudest point of the night.
On the verge of the 25th anniversary of their critically acclaimed album, ‘Cracked Rear View,’ Darius Rucker, guitarist Mark Bryan, bassist Dean Felber and drummer Jim Sonefeld put on a show their fans were sure to appreciate. Between their 54-40 cover of “I Go Blind” and 1994’s breakout hit “Hold My Hand,” the Toyota Amphitheatre was turning into a large singalong before the show would even reach its halfway point.
Though half the night seemed to be filled with covers, songs from ‘Cracked Rear View’ were the driving force of the night. With a beautiful violin for “Running From an Angel” to “Time” and “Drowning,” Hootie & the Blowfish sounded like a well-tuned band eager to win over a few new fans.
Before getting into the timeless “Wagon Wheel,” Rucker would comment that it was “the moneymaker,” which made for a comforting laugh amongst the audience. For all the jokes that have been made at their expense, Hootie & the Blowfish, as a band, offer a fully produced show from beginning to end.
And in the end, before getting into a five song encore, Barenaked Ladies would join Hootie & the Blowfish on stage for a lively rendition of the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends,” where Stewart, Felber and Sonefeld’s assisting vocals made for a memorable showing that brought the Group Therapy concept to full fruition.
For more information on Hootie & the Blowfish and the Group Therapy Tour, visit Hootie.com/tour.
Photo by Cesar Alexander