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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jason Anderson Comes to Clark. Good Things Happen.

Yesterday the pasteurized bar in the basement of the former gymnasium which today is known as The Grind at Clark University was graced by the presence of one Jason Anderson, a native New Englander with a penchant for awesomeness. Similarly to the Andrew W.K. experience of last April, he brought a positive attitude, a sense of hope, pure joy, and the promise that Rock'n'Roll is not dead and that the feelings it conveys and creates can be used to make each listener's life better, and the whole of humanity improved if we all manage to stop and listen. He played to a much smaller crowd than Andrew W.K., but that did not stop him from putting on a memorable show. Frequently audience (and band) members would chuckle at the frankness of his lyrics, a sort of workingman's straightforward poetry often held together by giant major chords, and yet broken with moments of great quiet and intimacy, lyrics whispered, guitar strings barely plucked. To be in the crowd was not to merely watching the band play, it was to play along, to shout, to sing along, to clap your hands and stomp your feet. It was Anderson's show, but it was yours too, an easy joint custody of an evening that in his words "will never happen exactly the same ever again." Admittedly and ashamedly I was new to his music, and sometimes seeing an artist live that can be prohibitive to full enjoyment of the work, but in this case there was no such barrier to be broken. Everything sounded familiar, but not overly derivative or generic. He seemed perfect parts Glen Hansard, Josh Ritter, and Ted Leo, a seasoned professional who knew exactly what he was doing, but did it with a level of emotion and humility that made him and his music instantly enjoyable. I left hoarse and ecstatic, hoping that the endorphins would never wear off, that I could always go through life with the sense of right and purpose I felt this night, that I wouldn't need additional doses of that drug called music to stay on course. Michael Skinner (perhaps not the best person to mine for meaningful quotes, but why not?) once said that the two great narcotics are Christianity and alcohol. He prefers the latter, and I prefer live shows in the vein of the one that Jason Anderson put on last night. Sometimes the option not given is the best to take. 8.5



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