It may sound shameful, but after living in Orange County for—oh, I don't know—22 years, this is the first time I'd made the trip down to OCPAC's Samueli Theater. Okay, maybe it's not that shameful. It's just that the place seems way too nice a venue for most rock bands I've seen lately. But last night, fans of Matt Costa and Satisfaction managed to wedge some good 'ol boot stomping energy into the dim lights of this high class Costa Mesa culture cove.
In the dim lights of the marble foyer, conversations popped and echoed from the walls as people filed in. Some Costa fans preferred to pick through the crammed merchandise peddling tables inside, while others rushed the bar near Will Call to pick their favorite color in the rainbow shelf of booze. This would be Costa's last stop on his recent tour to promote their Unfamiliar Faces (Brushfire Records 2008) album.
After about a half hour of brain-numbing house music, front man Michael Rosas stepped to the microphone under blood-red stage lights with his comrades from Satisfaction in tow. The crowd's applause died down as he whispered the opening lines to the song "Nothing, Oh Nothing" before the band exploded into the pop-laced, clap-along opener.
Seeing Satisfaction play was a second "first" for me that evening. Though I feel myself getting nauseated by the jangly pop rock that has infected most local OC venues like the plague, I was able to stomach these guys easily. Songs like "So we'll Just Take the Night" and "It's So Hard To Admit You're Wrong, Even When You're Right" had a great mix of grit, pop and humor that did it's thing without trying too hard. The thumping energy of the last song "Don't Do This To Me" was definitely a good way to close out the set.
Another highlight of the set was when Rosas had the good taste to hock a loogie on stage. You know, a good audible one, with a touch of soul behind it. Which is gross but pretty common place, even at a rock show. But the dialogue following the action was priceless:
Rosas: "Excuse me, I have something in my throat." Random audience member: "That's what she said" Every one in the room: laughs.
Once Satisfaction left, the roar of the crowd swelled to the top of the building as Costa and his band took the stage. Always in good form, Costa greeted the crowd and thanked everyone for coming out to a much needed stop on their home turf. Even though it wasn't your typical big opening song, Costa strummed the simple chords to "Yellow Taxi Cab" and the crowd went crazy. An added bonus to this tune was guitarist Mitch Townsend's meandering lap steel guitar over the top of the song's sunny groove.
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With a new album out, I wasn't sure if he was going to neglect songs off the Elasmasaurus EP (Brushfire Records 2005) in favor of more Unfamiliar Faces tracks. Luckily, Costa gave us a couple of choice oldies including the boot stomping "Ballad of Miss Kate" and "Sweet Thursday." But of course, the new stuff took its proper place in the set.
Costa crept to the key board and hammered out the notes to "Mr. Pitiful." That song is so infectious that even the silhouettes of fans sitting in the upper deck tables were bobbing their heads and clapping. And the two-step dance fest didn't end there. Costa got the crowd moving with songs like "Sunshine" and "My Sweet Rose" from his first full length album The Songs We Sing (Brushfire Records 2006). Yellow stage lights pulsed as he closed out the set with "Miss Magnolia" and the ground shook with more rhythmic foot pounding. At one point a couple bold female fans hopped on stage and shook their hips for the band.
In an encore performance, Costa finally graced screaming fans with the thump and strum magic of "Cold December." He even played a new tune that didn't really stand out from anything else he played that night. But for his fans, some of Costa's appeal lies in the fact that he's never scared to try something new on stage, whether it's a cover of song of his musical heroes or something he just wrote, and last night it definitely worked for him. Before he left the stage, a fan passed him a shirt with "I heart MC" on it. That's some hometown love for ya right there.
View pictures of the live performance here.