November 26, 2016
The Bomb Factory
By Tim Taylor
Photos by Michael Insuaste
Blues Explosion @ The Bomb Factory
Blue October are a fascinating and evolving band. In five years, they've gone from making dark music with lyrics fueled by anger and angst to a more sophisticated songwriting style driven by humility, love, and gratitude. The band goes in whatever direction lead singer/songwriter Justin Furstenfeld's life is going, and presently, that puts these Texas alt-rockers in a very good place. They're supporting their brilliant new record Home, riding the wave of their longest-charting single, and playing better live than ever before. For the last few years, Blue October's best shows have been in Dallas the weekend after Thanksgiving. This year's venue of choice was the Bomb Factory, and they put on another memorable performance for a packed house.
The reason Texas shows are the ones to see is that Furstenfeld and his bandmates know what their biggest fans want to hear. The set lists in their home state are always full of surprises, and this one was exceptional. After opening with the defiant "I Want It," they made the crowd dance to "Sway" and wave their middle fingers in the air during "Light You Up." The hit single "Into the Ocean" made the crowd roar, while Furstenfeld showed his impressive vocal ability with a moving rendition of "Fear." The extended guitar jam during the sexy "Debris" made everybody's head spin, and the family-inspired single "Home" warmed everyone's heart. Rarely played gems like "Ugly Side," "Balance Beam," and "Chameleon Boy" had the diehards smiling from ear to ear, while new songs like "Driver" and "Coal Makes Diamonds" showcased the band's new sound and attitude.
The array of emotions you go through at a Blue October show is crazy, but the two most powerful moments happened during the band's six-song encore. The first was an acoustic version of "We Know Where You Go" with Justin Furstenfeld on guitar, Ryan Delahoussaye on violin, and drummer Jeremy Furstenfeld singing harmony. It was so unexpectedly beautiful and perfect, and the serious subject matter of the song was conveyed astonishingly well. The second was the song that Justin says will never be left out of the set, "The Worry List." It was written for his oldest daughter, Blue, and no matter how many times you hear Justin sing it, you can feel the love and pain he was experiencing at the time. Tears flowed as his fans realized that this song alone was worth the price of admission.
The show concluded with rockers "Italian Radio" and "Leave it in the Dressing Room (Shake it Up)," featuring bassist Matt Noveskey and new lead guitarist Matthew Ostrander showing their shredding skills, running around the stage, and jumping off the amps.
This was the best Blue October concert that I've seen so far, and I'll be sure to attend many more after such a strong performance. No matter what changes occur in Furstenfeld's life and songwriting style, his passion is always the driving force in this band. Now four years into his recovery from substance abuse, his fans are lucky to still have him around, and very appreciative of his hard work to stay on the right track. Here's hoping that blessings continue to find him and his family, and this band continues to bring us some of the most unique and real music of this generation.
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