Concert Review: Copeland, The Lonely Hearts, The Connotations, Lukas Hollow (March 13, 2004, Houston, TX)

Copeland exceeded all of my expectations with their sincerity and proficiency at playing fabulous rock n’ roll.

Saturday, March 13, 2004, was a record night. According to David Ellis, the owner of The Revelation Room in Canton, TX, they had the largest crowd ever for Saturday’s rock show. 315 people came out to see Copeland, The Lonely Hearts, The Connotations, and Lukas Hollow. The largest crowd they had before that was for a Thousand Foot Krutch concert, and I’m quite pleased that Copeland dethroned them from holding The Rev. Room’s attendance record. I personally had been looking forward to seeing this show for a long time.

Around 7:30pm the show began. Lukas Hollow opened the concert and started off their set with a cover of “God Bless Texas.” Many members of the audience sang the chorus right along with the lead singer. I’m not sure I felt blessed to be standing there witnessing the Texas pride of most everyone in the audience, but it felt good to know that within the evening I was going to see The Connotations and Copeland play their excellent brand of rock n’ roll.

Lukas Hollow’s set was competent musically and fairly entertaining. Musically, they reminded me of Thursday and could easily be classified as light screamo. The bassist/lead singer’s singing vocals were a little weak, but the two talented guitar players and drummer made up for whatever the vocalist/bassist lacked in the singing department. In the middle of their set, the drummer played a solo — which was very rock n’ roll, but I don’t really want to hear a drum solo unless I’m at a jazz show or I’m watching Dream Theatre, Rush, <insert favorite prog-rock band>. Lukas Hollow had many rowdy fans in the crowd and will continue to win many more if they continue to play rock shows.

Next, The Connotations took the stage. In every way possible, Taylor Muse, The Connotations’ primary songwriter/lead singer/guitarist, posed as a lithe rock god. Yet again, Taylor proved to me he owns any stage he steps on. The entire set he was caressing the mic, pounding his guitar, and wheeling his body around like it was the last time he was going to play rock n’ roll. Nick Davis (aka Beardo), the lead guitarist, also stood out with his excellent playing.

The most surprising band personnel issue to me was their old keyboardist playing bass. He did a great job filling the bottom end and was more than competent on his instrument. Midway through the set, they played a new song which borrowed heavily from Radiohead. The song began with a loop and Taylor sang beautifully. The song built in intensity and ended in classic Connotations rock style. They ended the set with “We Are Trouble By The Truckloads,” a song you may have heard on the Mono vs. Stereo compilation, and nearly rocked the place out of control. Any day I get to see The Connotations play is a good day.

After The Connotations show, The Lonely Hearts played some tunes. The Lonely Hearts used to be called Holland. I have to be honest, I never liked Holland, and I always thought their lead guitarist did his best to sound like The Edge, and all their songs sounded the same. Don’t get me wrong, I think the lead singer has a great voice, and they are all really good musicians. I just think the music is a little boring.

For me, the high point of The Lonely Hearts set came when the lead singer put down his electric guitar, and for the last three songs, played new material on acoustic. I think the idea for The Lonely Hearts is to play acoustic-based rock music a la Wilco. As I stated before, Holland always bored me. But at the end of the set, I saw a glimmer of change for The Lonely Hearts. And change for these guys, in my opinion, is a good thing.

Then the moment I had been waiting for all night came. Copeland took the stage. The song they opened the set with was… curses! I forgot to write the set list down! Oh well. I can at least tell you the songs I remembered most.

The highlights for me were “When Paula Sparks” and “When Finally Set Free.” They ended the normal portion of the rock show with a reworked, electric version of “California.” The reworked version of “California” was amazing. Most of my friends and I were in awe. They also played a new song in the middle of the set that nearly rocked my face off. The bass player said something about a motorcycle and then they roared into the song. The new song was riff-driven and the few lines I remembered from the song were (I’m kind of paraphrasing here): “When all she wants is your money, and all he wants is your body.” Those are the lyrics I remember…

Aaron, the lead singer/guitarist, played the whole set with his shaggy, blonde hair in his face and his beautiful nose ring glimmering in the lights. The only negative thing about a Copeland show is that, if you are up close to the stage, Aaron may spit on you while he is singing. Some of you may not mind being spit on, but I think I would. But despite the spit, Aaron sang with a deep intensity that echoed the personal nature of the songs.

The lead guitar player could have been accused of loitering on stage, except his riffs fleshed the music out wonderfully and made up for his lack of stage presence. The bass player sang great background vocals and was the most active on stage. He moved like a cat, and sang like a bird. These metaphors really suck. I know. I’m just excited, OK? I love this band. The drummer was great, too. The whole band was so tight I could hardly believe it. Copeland was so good on Saturday — my friend who wears Demon Hunter shirts and loves Living Sacrifice said Copeland rocked!

Also, Copeland got a bona fide encore. They hadn’t planned an encore, but the crowd clapped until they came back on the stage and played another song. At the end of the night, Copeland exceeded all of my expectations with their sincerity and proficiency at playing fabulous rock n’ roll. It’s hard to impress this hardened music snob, and Copeland impressed the crap out of me. So if you get a chance, don’t miss an opportunity to see Copeland live.

Written by Scott Hearne.

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