On July 15, 2010 at the Uptown Amphitheater in Charlotte N.C., I attended a Counting Crows performance on their Traveling Circus and Medicine Show tour with Augustana and NOTAR. While I had attended many concert before and even more since, that night remains ingrained in my mind as the best concert I’ve ever attended.
With the Traveling Circus and Medicine Show, the Berkeley-born band opted for an alternative concert format. Instead of each band performing their own separate sets, all three musical groups took to the stage at once, playing each others’ songs, adding new musical layers to each track and coming and leaving the stage at whim.
It all seemed really bizarre, unless you’re familiar with the talent behind the idea. Counting Crows is widely known for their unrivaled on-stage energy, innovation and passion, which might be why the band has released six live albums to date, matching their six studio albums.
No two Counting Crows concerts are the same. Lead singer Adam Duritz extends and rewrites songs for different performances, often taking clipping from other songs and adding them to their own songs, often adding verses to songs that fans wouldn’t normally get to hear on their albums.
The concert that I attended was no exception. My favorite track from the concert was “Rain King,” the band’s fourth single and arguably one of the band’s most powerful songs. With this performance, the band added verses to song doubling the its usual four-minute run time.
Duritz is known to perform in such a trance-like state of mind that he’s often thought to be intoxicated on stage. Duritz recently hosted an Ask-Me-Anything forum on Reddit, where a fan asked him about his pre-show rituals.
“I get really gone onstage but I rarely drink,” he wrote. “It just takes too heavy a toll over the course of an entire tour. I can’t do that and keep my voice together. It’s funny though. I read a lot of stories about how I was wasted at a show, but it’s almost never the case on tour.”
For better or for worse, the attitudes of the concert attendees can have a major impact on the general atmosphere of the concert. Fortunately, Counting Crows has one of the most fervent and friendly fan-bases out there. At the concert, I met countless fans with Counting Crows-inspired tattoos, which made for great conversation starters.
And if for these reasons alone, Counting Crow’s 2010 performance at the Uptown Amphitheater remains my all-time favorite concert to date.