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Jennifer Maxwell
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Michael Franti: Sept 27, 2009

[gallery link="file" columns="2"] Tonight was one of the most electrifying and powerful evenings of my musical life.  The power of the performances and the energy brought forth by all parties was absolutely awe-inspiring. The evening started with the power of Mother Nature. Thunder roared down State Street as we walked towards the Union Theater. Lightning sparkled and stretched across the sky, reflecting in the lake as we stood in line at the door to get in. Once safely inside, the sky opened up and let loose the hail, crashing on the roofs, the cars and the ground. We would soon find out that this was nothing in comparison to energy of the show that we were about to see. The audience was full of anticipation and excitement waiting for the opening band, Trevor Hall. Finally, Trevor hit the stage with full force. He rocks a style I can best describe as folk rock reggae. The energy and force of this trio rang true across the stage and the fans. Rocking choruses and smooth reggae groove filled the air as the fans danced and rocked below him. Each member had their chance to show off their abilities through personal solos including a keyboard harmonica solo by Hall.  The three seemed to be having a blast. The strong lyrics of songs such as "The Lime Tree" and "Unity" and poetic delivery showed clearly why he was invited to play with Franti. The excitement continued to grow in anticipation of Franti. The stage was set as everyone milled about and met their neighbors. As the lights went down, we saw an amazing set depicting what looked like a small Jamaican village complete with a set of size 50 Converse Chucks hanging from the power lines. As Franti began to play I noticed that one of the most amazing things about a Michael Franti show is the diversity of the audience. In his songs he sings of unity, community, compassion and acceptance - things much easier said than done. But, looking across the crowd, you can see these ideas embodied. Every race, color, religion and age group seemed to fill the concert hall, all together to rock. Franti jumps from style to style, playing everything from rock to reggae, pop to hip hop, jazz, blues, and even disco. Every song he does has the power to bring all together with hands in the air, waving and clapping like I've never seen before. This one room of 1,300+ people all in unison feeling every beat of the drum and thumping strum of bass. Even the slow acoustic songs packed a powerful punch, with guitar strumming and Franti belting out powerful poetic lyrics through his amazing voice. The crowd sang at the top of their collective lungs, knowing every single word. The fun and enthusiasm that Michael has for his music and his shows is clear. He playfully threw in nods to past greats with segues into the Grateful Dead, Michael Jackson, and even a little Tainted Love. He kept the crowd lively and energetic with clapping, singing and jumping around; there was never a dull moment. One of the highlights had to be when he brought three audience members on stage, gave them all guitars, and had them rock out to some Nirvana. At first the younger of three had no idea what was going on, but as the band rocked Nirvana from the wings, they realized it was their chance to be themselves and be free, regardless of their inability to play an instrument. The show ended way too quickly with Michael inviting all the children in the audience up on to the stage for "Say Hey". This was further proof of the crowd's diversity, with children ranging from probably 8 years old and up jumping onto the stage. This song was Franti's rocking thanks to all of his fans - for the first time in their 15 years as a band, they now had a top 40 song. When the show ended, Franti jumped back into the crowd and started signing tickets and CDs, shaking hands and hugging all the fans that came out to see him. He took time to greet each and every guest that came down to the stage. Heading backstage brought out all the musicians, happy to chat and enjoy the company, band members and guests. Pictures were taken, more signatures, birthday wishes were written, and even a few bottles of beer and wine were shared. That ended the evening for me, walking down the now peaceful streets of downtown Madison, with the storms gone and the stars shining. Peaceful with the memory of the show I just enjoyed - a quiet contrast to the high energy in the Union Theatre. If there is one thing that I learned tonight, it is that if you ever want to feel a part of something - the community, the state, the world, or even the universe, your first stop should be a Michael Franti concert. There is truth in the line that "Everyone deserves music". There is no better place to see the joy, power, comfort, love and happiness that music brings us all. --Dan Kroninger

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09/28/2009 10:48AM
Michael Franti: Sept 27, 2009
Please Enter Your Comments Below
09/28/2009 12:03PM
Gabby
Wow! What a great show. You made me feel like I was there, and sorry I wasn't. Excellent blog.
10/01/2009 12:07PM
Heather
Great job on the blog, Dan! As jealous as I am that I didn't win this contest, I really enjoyed your excellent description of the concert! I can totally feel the love...I am so sad that we missed it live!!! My husband and I saw Michael Franti & Spearhead at the Barrymore the week after the elections last fall and it was the BEST SHOW EVER! We really wanted to go this time, and take the kids, but alas, couldn't afford it. I'll live vicariously through your post for now and save up for the next show.
10/01/2009 12:46PM
Dan on the East Side
You captured perfectly the spirit that's present at every Michael Franti & Spearhead show... we first saw (and became immediately hooked) on MF at the 2005 Reggae on the River festival in Humboldt County, CA, and promised ourselves to never miss an opportunity to see him again (and we haven't!)
03/28/2010 9:37AM
inflatabill
Hey, I made those giant shoes! They're actually a size 104.
06/28/2010 12:00AM
ultrasound technician
Valuable info. Lucky me I found your site by accident, I bookmarked it.
10/16/2011 5:16AM
Inspired By Nature
Website Trackback Link... [...]the time to read or visit the content or sites we have linked to below the[...]...
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