Larger Than Life: Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper and Gogol Bordello in 3D (Review)

Larger Than Life in 3D Poster
As I previously posted, movie theaters across the nation had a new live concert film/experience titled “Larger Than Life in 3D” which featured Dave Matthews Band, Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 and Gogol Bordello which showed from December 11th through the 17th. I attended the 9PM showing on Wednesday, December 16th at the Wehrenberg Theater in Cedar Rapids. The movie was a 3D experience of three 2009 concerts with each of the bands.

I haven’t heard any reports about attendance of the showings, but the dark theater was empty– an exclusive showing for me, apparently. Maybe the fans of these bands had seen earlier shows, maybe it was a factor of folks out for Christmas shopping. Unfortunately, I was planning to give away some teeshirts, posters and lanyards promoting the event, but ended up bringing the pile back home with me. I did give away a couple teeshirts anyway. I think that this is a pretty cool event idea and the 3D and surround aspects of seeing a live act, while not the same as experiencing a live show with the crowd is very much enhanced over just seeing a video or even just a movie of a concert.

The movie kicked off with short sets from Gogol Bordello and Ben Harper. I haven’t seen either of them live– video or otherwise, so I was interested to see them.

Before the movie started there were previews of some upcoming 3D movies– a cute preview to the new addition to the Toy Story series which should be out in 2010. The Spanish-language Buzz Lightyear had me laughing out loud– looks cute. I also saw the preview for the new Tim Burton film Alice in Wonderland, which is apparently a sequel of sorts to the original story with an adult-ish Alice returning to Wonderland. In addition to those trailers I saw a trailer for another 3D concert movie from the folks at inconcert3d– in February there will be a “Best of Lollapalooza” movie which looks cool, and the trailer dropped that there will be a “Best of Austin City Limits Festival” in 2010 at an unspecified date. I’m sure that the ACL Festival footage came from the same shows that provided the footage for the Dave Matthews Band set.

Following the trailers they showed Alberta Cross performing “Old Man Chicago” from the Livestrong stage at Austin City Limits festival. I hadn’t heard them before, but had heard of them from their session (click here).

First up was a short but high-energy set from Gogol Bordello. The two songs performed were effectively the last two songs before the encore of their nine-song performance at the All-Points West Festival in Jersey City, NJ from August from this year. Pretty crazy set– the band played in a frenzy. Very Eastern-European folk rhythms. I thought it sounded pretty great, but I think it would have been better if the set would have been more than two songs and actually at the show.

Following Gogol Bordello was a three-song set from Ben Harper and the Relentless7 excerpted from their performance at the Mile High Festival this year. I was really impressed with their set. Ben Harper was on fire laying out his bluesy approach which reminded me of Lenny Kravitz and Jimi Hendrix a bit. I really wish there would have been more Ben Harper! His set was enough for me to download his new album White Lies for Dark Times and order the 180g 2 LP version! I will admit that I hadn’t been following him at all. There was a friend of a friend in Minneapolis who, in the 90’s, was a big Ben Harper fan and had seen him a couple of times at First Avenue– he tried one night to get me to listen to some songs. At the time I wasn’t really very taken with what he played for me and I guess that stuck with me until I saw these songs in the movie. I was immediately taken with the slide guitar parts. Apparently the creation of the Relentless7 band sparked a new direction for Ben Harper– one that I think has some genuine soul and blues to it. I recommend catching him live with his new band.

Finally, Dave Matthews Band was up and played nine songs from their Austin City Limits Festival set. I was a fan of the first two Dave Matthews Band albums– especially Under the Table and Dreaming which was played on Rev105 and Cities97. I really hadn’t heard anything quite like them at the time– the passionate, slightly soft vocal delivery from Dave Matthews and the overall polish that really helped deliver the songs. Like many, I heard all of the huge singles– “Crash Into Me,” “The Space Between.” I just didn’t really keep following him because I didn’t feel that he really developed much over the years. It isn’t that I don’t like Dave Matthews, I’m just not really compelled to listen to him much–in my opinion he just hasn’t developed based on his studio output. Where Dave really shines is in a live setting. He has one of the great live bands, really– strong and able to really carry the show, I think.  I wasn’t very familiar with most of the songs in the movie, except for the “Burning Down the House” Talking Heads cover, “Ants Marching,” and I had heard “Why I Am” from the new album.  None of the big hits were in this set which seemed to focus on his new album Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King, which is a tribute to the late DMB member LeRoi Moore. But, it is the live performance where he shines and he was clearly working for this performance– his shirt was soaked with sweat, and he was in constant movement, clearly enjoying the music often with a big grin on his face and doing his little shuffle dance.

After the DMB set, during the credits we got to see one more performance from Gogol Bordello– “Wanderlust King” which was cool. Effectively, then both of the opening acts got three songs. Looking around the empty theater I wondered if the show would have been more enjoyable with others in the audience. I expect it would have been– but traditional movie courtesy is to be quiet during movies– are the crowds more participatory during these live concerts– do they cheer? Maybe I’ll find out in February at the Lollapalooza movie if they have it in Cedar Rapids.

Gogol Bordello Set:
Start Wearing Purple
Think Globally, Fuck Locally
Wanderlust King (during credits)

Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 Set:
Lay There & Hate Me
Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart)
Serve Your Soul

Dave Matthews Band Set:
You Might Die Trying
Funny The Way It Is
So Damn Lucky
Shake Me Like a Monkey
Why I Am
Burning Down The House (Talking Heads cover)
So Much to Say
Ants Marching

Upcoming Show: Dave Matthews, Ben Harper & Gogol Bordello in 3D This Week

Larger Than Life in 3D Poster
Starting Friday, December 11th and running until Thursday, December 17th in selected theaters across the nation a new concert experience will occur. Titled “Larger than Life in 3D” it features concert footage of Dave Matthews Band from the Austin City Limits Festival this year, Ben Harper and the Restless 7 from the Mile High Music Festival and Gogol Bordello from New Jersey’s All Points West Festival.

While there have been concerts in the movie theaters before– notably Woodstock The Movie, The Last Waltz, Stop Making Sense, and more recently the Michael Jackson posthumous film “This is It.” What distinguishes this film– obviously from the title– is the fact that it is in High Definition 3D.  Inconcert3D filmed each of the performances in a manner which provides the audiences a 360-degree view and 3D.

It’s well-established that Dave Matthews Band is a band to see live (even though I have yet to see him live other than on TV) and Ben Harper carries his own clout when it comes to live performances so it makes sense that the first of this kind of concert experience would use these two artists. Gogol Bordello– a “gypsy punk” band from NYC has been around since 1999 purveying their blend of ethnic music and building a fanbase and notariety for their live performances as well. They have been working with Rick Rubin on their next album which will drop in early 2010. In looking into Gogol Bordello, I read the Wikipedia article on the band and was reminded that the band first appeared on my radar due to their relationship to Madonna– they were featured in her directorial debut Filth and Wisdom, and frontman Eugene Hutz is one of the leads. Eugene was also cast as Alexander in the Elijah Wood film Everything is Illuminated. So, this is clearly a band that is making a name for itself– if only in exposure.

Dave Matthews Band played the Austin City Limits Festival on October 3, 2009 on the Livestrong Stage. The film is only an hour and a half, so obviously all of the songs for these three bands will not be shown, but here is what they drew from to make the performances:

Don’t Drink the Water
You Might Die Trying
Funny The Way It Is
So Damn Lucky
Shake Me Like a Monkey
Why I Am
Jimi Thing
Burning Down The House (Talking Heads cover)
So Much to Say
Anyone Seen the Bridge
Too Much (fake)
Ants Marching
Two Step



Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 played the Mile High Music Festival in Commerce City, CO on July 18th, 2009. Here is the full setlist from that show:

Comin’ Up Easy
Number With No Name
Shimmer & Shine
Good Times Bad Times (Led Zeppelin cover)
Lay There & Hate Me
Why Must You Always Dress In Black / Red House
Another Lonely Day
Skin Thin
Fly One Time
Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart)
Boots Like These
Under Pressure (Queen cover)
Up To You Now
Serve Your Soul
Gogol Bordello played the All Points Festival in Jersey City, NJ on August 1st, 2009. Here is the full setlist:

Not A Crime
Wonderlust King
Immigraniada (new song)
Tribal Connection
Start Wearing Purple
Think Locally Fuck Globally
Mala Vida


It looks like they have added new theaters this week, and Cedar Rapids, IA now has two theaters showing the concert! The ticket price for the Wehrenberg Theater is $12.25 for adult tickets. The cool thing about the Wehrenberg is they serve alcohol, so it will be more of an “adult” show. I think this is a pretty cool idea and hope that this takes off and we get more shows like this. I’d go to an extended Bonnaroo show, for example that maybe had a couple of hours of excerpts.

I’m going to the shows this week, and will provide a report back on what it was like. I got some promotional goodies like some teeshirts, posters and groovy 3D “passes” that I’ll bring with me and be wearing– if you see me, stop me and I’ll hook you up after the show! I’ll be at the Wehrenberg Theater when I go, but I haven’t decided when. Maybe if you watch my twitter feed, you will know!

Click Here to visit the InConcert3D site to search for theaters and tickets near you!

Upcoming Show: Garaj Mahal at Parlor City Pub and Eatery in Cedar Rapids 9/20/09

Sherry and I were taking a tour of the New Bohemia area of Cedar Rapids earlier today with Mel Andringa of Legion Arts. Sherry is looking at building options in the 2008 Flood-ravaged area for her gluten free bakery prospective project. We walked by the new restaurant bar Parlor City Pub and Eatery and I saw that Garaj Mahal will be playing there on Sunday, September 20th!

Fareed Haque with the CR Jazz Big Band at Kirkwood 11-22-08
I saw Garaj Mahal guitarist Fareed Haque last November as part of the Kirkwood Community College Performing Arts Schedule. He did a “master series” class at the college in the afternoon and performed with the Kirkwood Jazz ensemble and the C.R. Jazz Big Band that evening.  Fareed is a noted Jazz guitarist in addition to his role in Garaj Mahal and has releases on Blue Note, Haven, and Pangea– which is Sting’s label. The show was great with Fareed providing entertaining stories and commentary in between the songs. In addition to his accomplishments as a musician, Fareed is also a professor of Jazz and Classical Guitar Studies at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb where he lives and owns The House Cafe.

Garaj Mahal released their latest album w00t in 2008.

Certainly, don’t miss an opportunity to see Garaj Mahal in one of Cedar Rapids’ newest restaurants.

The show starts at 6PM Sunday, September 20th and has a $10 cover.

Click Here to visit the Garaj Mahal website

Click Here to visit the Garaj Mahal MySpace Page

Click Here to see upcoming tour dates for Garaj Mahal on JamBase.

Click Here to visit the Facebook Event for the show and RSVP.

Click Here to listen to “Hotel” from w00t.

Click Here to listen to “Jaime’s Jam” from w00t.

Click Here to listen to “Semos” from w00t.

Sheryl Crow Live In Boston 7/30/08 (Review)

Sheryl Crow
I was in Boston this week for business and had the opportunity to see Sheryl Crow live at the very nice Bank of America Pavilion in Boston. It was a beautiful evening and the chance to see a show outdoors at night was great. The seemingly largely female audience was entertained by James “You’re Beautiful” Blunt and legendary Reggae/Ska act Toots and the Maytals. Overlong dinner plans caused the group I was with to miss all of Toots’s show and mercifully most of Blunt’s show. I did get to hear “Beautiful” as well as his newer single “1973” which seemed unexpectedly full of energy for the weepy folkster. He was standing on his piano and running through the audience. BTW: “1973” quotes “I Can See Clearly Now” which Crow drops in a song later in the evening.

In a fashion similar to the Detours album, Sheryl opened the set with a solo acoustic performance of “God Bless This Mess.” The band joined and provided a rocking set of Sheryl’s catalog– covering a good balance of her big hits and songs from her new album.

Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical about this show. I knew she put on a good live show but her last two albums– the country influenced Wildflowers and her latest Detours which is a personal account of the last three years of her life– have been a departure from her typical releases and certainly from the sunkissed C’mon C’mon. I had downloaded her last two albums but never really got past a cursory listen.

Any reservations I had about the show were cast away as Sheryl and band started working the stage. She was clearly enjoying herself and the crowd was returning the positive vibe she was delivering. My wife thinks that most men are only fans of Sheryl because they want to sleep with her. While I agree that Sheryl is holding up very well for 46, she is a very confident live performer that delivers as entertaining a live show as I have seen with any seasoned live act. In fact, it occurred to me watching the show that her no-nonsense blend of American rock reminded me of Tom Petty’s live shows.

I was pretty impressed with her (and her band’s) ability to carry off some covers and cover teases. It is with a knowing wink that they carried the bluesy Fender Rhodes and bongos driven “Gasoline” from Detours into “Gimme Shelter.” Her tease of Gary Wright’s “Love is Alive” in “There Goes The Neighborhood” was unexpected (at least by me, I don’t know if she does this at every show) and appreciated. The cover of “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder was very good and a fun way to wrap up the encore.

The hits were mostly in attendance: “Leaving Los Vegas,” “Strong Enough,” “My Favorite Mistake,” “If It Makes You Happy,” “Soak Up The Sun,” “Everyday Is A Winding Road,” and “All I Wanna Do” enough to keep some of the others in my group who weren’t as familiar with Sheryl’s catalog happy and they commented about how surprised they were that they knew so many songs.

She performed no less than six songs from her new album, and they fit in very well alongside her very intimidating run of hits since 1994. Before performing the title track of this year’s Detours Sheryl made reference to her recent life-altering events by saying that “it’s the detours that really teach you about who you are.”

Sheryl Crow

On the flight home from Boston I decided to give Detours another listen. At times its honesty is a bit shocking and not at all what I expected. The brave portrayal of raw emotion in songs like “Diamond Ring,” “Make It Go Away (Radiation Song),” and “Lullaby For Wyatt” actually reminds me of John Lennon’s laid-bare biographical approach to songwriting during his solo career. The album and likely this tour is a cathartic exercise for Sheryl and one she evidently needed. This show and review of her latest album changes Sheryl for me from the “beer-drinking in the morning party girl” to a woman who is bravely sharing a close look at herself at a time of change. It will be interesting to see what is next.

Setlist (thanks to the boards at

God Bless This Mess
Shine Over Babylon
Love Is Free
Leaving Los Vegas
Strong Enough
Can’t Cry Anymore (including I Can See Clearly)
My Favorite Mistake
Gasoline (Gimme Shelter)
There Goes The Neighborhood (including Love Is Alive)
Redemption Day
Out of Our Heads
If It Makes You Happy
Soak Up The Sun
Everyday Is A Winding Road

All I Wanna Do
Higher Ground

Click Here for my flickr photoset of the show with more pictures

Click Here for Sheryl Crow’s Website