November 27, 2015
South Side Ballroom
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Tim Taylor
Photos by Brooke Adams
A Thankful Blue October Sells Out The Southside Ballroom
The weekend after Thanksgiving in 2014, Blue October played two special shows at the House of Blues in Dallas to film their second live DVD and an accompanying 2-disc live album, both titled Things We Do At Night (Live in Texas). Their first DVD, 2004's Argue With a Tree, covered their earlier material, so the focus on the new one is the music from the last four albums. For those of us at the HOB shows, the moody lighting and massive amounts of stage smoke made it a bit difficult to see at times, but those same effects make the DVD look stunning. Released on November 20, 2015, Things We Do At Night (Live in Texas) does a good job of showing off Blue October hits like "Hate Me" and "Into the Ocean" while mixing in favorites of the die-hards like the heart-wrenching "The Feel Again (Stay)" and the dark "X Amount of Words," which features powerhouse solos from bassist Matt Noveskey and lead guitarist C.B. Hudson.
Justin Furstenfeld's vocals are spot on throughout the DVD, and with his songwriting style being so brutally honest and autobiographical, he's fascinating to watch as he re-lives his difficult past at times, and then sings the newer songs with a mixture of joy and victory over his old demons. This DVD and CD are must-haves for the casual and the most obsessed fans alike, and to celebrate it's release, Blue October returned to Dallas almost exactly a year later to play a sold-out show at the South Side Ballroom, which holds twice as many people as the House of Blues.
More than 3,000 fans packed into the South Side Ballroom on a cold, rainy night to share a special moment with Blue October. The band came out fired up about their new CD/DVD release as well as their biggest Dallas crowd as a headliner, and their performance felt like a giant "thank you" to their fellow Texans for the years of love and support.
The audience danced and sang every word of "Sway" and "She's My Ride Home," and proudly raised their middle fingers in the air with Justin Furstenfeld during a passionate version of "Light You Up" just like they did a year ago, but this year's setlist had a few more surprises for the fanatics that have followed the band from the beginning. A sing-along version of "HRSA," a seductive "Come in Closer," and a heavy-as-hell "James" had the old school crowd going nuts, and Furstenfeld beamed with pride as he listened to everyone singing the words he wrote in his younger days, before the radio hits.
Just like on the DVD, Furstenfeld masterfully belted out the beautiful "Fear," inspiring tears from many of his fans who relate so well to the words he uses in describing his triumph over his own personal struggles. As powerful as that moment was, they followed it with an exceptional rendition of "Debris," with an instrumental break at its crescendo that featured Justin and violinist Ryan Delahoussaye abusing their instruments during the most intense moment of the show. It seems to get better every time they play it.
During the encore, it was obvious that Justin was really feeling the moment, and after expressing his gratitude to the fans, he led the band into an impromptu version of a new song called "Home," which can also be heard during a touching scene at the end of the DVD that shows the band members interacting with their families. An emotiona
l performance of "The Worry List" and a rocking "Italian Radio," featuring solos from everyone, left everyone almost worn out, and then drummer Jeremy Furstenfeld pounded his way through "Things We Do At Night" to end the set.
Blue October is a band that keeps evolving and experimenting, but they never lose focus of the raw emotion that drives the songs. It's been a pleasure to watch them overcome obstacles and continue to get better, and the album they have coming in 2016 will undoubtedly be another masterpiece added to their impressive catalog.