There are several reasons why I love Citizen Cope’s music. It’s the kind of music you put on to cook breakfast with your sweetie. It’s music you just can’t help but sway along to. It’s music that doesn’t get the party started, but wraps it up neatly, and that’s exactly what I was looking for last Friday March 5th.
At 8PM, a rather eclectic sold out crowd gathered around the stage at the Vic, prepared to get down and enjoy the easy going, laid back music that is Citizen Cope. At least that was my plan. Waiting for Clarence Greenwood, the mastermind behind Citizen Cope, to take the stage was a journey in itself. Trying to get a beer was like traveling through a thick wilderness of alpha males and bubble-gum pop girls in hopes that you’ll make it to the fermented oasis. Word of advice Chicago concert goers, when you get to a show, get your drink, find a spot and don’t move. People want to see a show, not you and your twelve friends, linking arms and trying to squeeze to a closer vantage point.
Without an opener, shortly after nine, Clarence Greenwood took the stage to a huge cheer. Going solo acousticly for the first few songs, he showed off his guitar chops flawlessly performing, “Salvation” and “D’Artagnan’s Theme.” Unfortunately it seemed that only me, Mr. Greenwood and the entire balcony section seemed to feel the laid back vibe. The rest of the crowd seemed more interested in what they were doing after the show, than the actual show itself. As he finished his acoustic set, the rest of the band joined him to complete the complex puzzle that is Citizen Cope.
Citizen Cope’s set list was full of older favorites like “Son’s Gonna Rise”, “Pablo Picasso,” and “Every Waking Moment,” mixed with some great new songs like “Keep Askin’,” and “Healing Hands” from The Rainwater LP, just released this February. While he kept rolling through his diverse catalogue of mellow grooves, he rarely stopped to address the crowd, except for the occasional expression of sincere gratitude. He truly is a musician, doing what he does for his pure love of music. When he bowed to the crowd and looked out at the hundreds of people who showed up to his concert, I truly felt that he expressed some of the purest gratitude I’ve ever seen at a concert.
A definite highlight was during his most popular, and arguably best song, “Let the Drummer Kick,” where everyone started feeling the vibe and just bobbed their heads to agree that yes, this jam is awesome. It also marked one of the few times during the night where crowd participation helped fuel the song. Using the simple, yet amazingly deep lyrics to bring the whole room together in unity.
What I loved about the show was how much it was about the music, not putting on some elaborate stage show. It was the perfect show to grab your lady (or in my case, an extremely handsome photographer) and sway along to the groovy tones. You sip on your beer, you close your eyes and you let the tasty melodies and hooks grab you and take you elsewhere.
Regardless of how rude the crowd may have been throughout the night, I had the night I wanted. I’m not a teenager, or even a young adult anymore. I’ve matured and that’s why I dug what they had to offer. It wasn’t a night for crowd surfing and jumping, but for swinging and sing-a-longs. When you go to a Citizen Cope show the only thing you need is a lighter for waving, a lady for swaying, and a drink for sipping; I just wish the rest of the crowd agreed with me.