Revolution, Fort Lauderdale
February 25, 2011
As he explained in his recent interview with County Grind, when Keller Williams hits the stage, his aim is to entertain. Those who have seen him multiple times -- and there are many of those fans -- know that he rarely, if ever, falls short of that goal.
He certainly didn't fall short on Friday at Revolution. However, the number of folks in attendance was much less than his shows there in years past, though not a huge drop-off from last year. Perhaps folks are growing tired of his routine. He's pretty much doing the same thing now as he's always done, except there is less to it now, with not as many toys and instruments in the past.
It's kind of a lazier version of his old schtick. Or, maybe Keller-mania peaked in the years when Phish was not on tour, as did the popularity of many jam bands like Umphrey's McGee. Regardless, Williams still enjoys a strong fan base and is a really fun dude to have in the room. There were plenty of people there to make for a good show, and Keller came through, especially in the second set.
Keller's stage set-up was the same as last year, which is much more stripped-down than it used to be. He had his acoustic guitar on, and was flanked by a bass on a stand to his right, and another acoustic guitar on a stand to his left. In the back corner he had an electronic drum pad and and electronic djembe.
In front of him, as always, was his slew of mind-warp pedals, and he had a mixing board on the side of the stage. He was supported throughout by his long-time, loyal sound guy, Louis Gosain, who, in addition to maintaining beautiful sound for Keller, joined in with backing vocals and even a horn solo.
The first set was standard -- lots of songs, everything pretty clean, and a few little loop adventures. The vibe was mellow throughout, and the highlight came toward the end of the set when Keller busted out a bluegrass version of the Grateful Dead anthem "Shakedown Street." It was impressive that he was able to carry the deep funk groove of that song with just the guitar, and when he started hitting loops for the jam segment, it really got going.
After a little intermission, a funky guitar groove preceeded him and he came jogging out onto stage already playing. A few songs into the set he hit a nice stride, and the crowd came to life. Keller was noticeably uplifted by the hoots and hollers and a cool, interactive vibe was established. Doubtless it can get pretty lonely being a one-man jam band if the crowd is not with you. But the crowd was in and they were treated to some nice pieces to close out the night.
The set notably featured a thick, loop-heavy jam in and out of the Keller classic "More Than a Little," as well as a version of Phish's "Stash," during which Keller became a human trumpet. There were also a strange few minutes where he held a MacBook and jammed out samples, something that is apparently new to his routine.
Personal Bias: I've seen the routine many times, and I'm down to see it many more times.
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The Crowd: Hippies ready to party, who really woke up for the last half.
By the Way: Keller just released an album of children's music and there are some fun videos with him playing some of the songs with his daughter on his website.