WASHINGTON, August 3, 2012 – The Wallflowers have carved out a somewhat curious niche for themselves since their inception, or rather since their big break. On the surface, the band is known for two things in popular culture. First, despite having several hits, the only song anyone ever really remembers by them is “One Headlight.”
The second is front man Jakob Dylan, the son of musical icon Bob Dylan. Both of these things are true, but they only offer a minor snap shot of the Wallflowers.
Needless to say there are some misconceptions about the band.
Their performance at Nationals Park for the monthly concert series Nats Live Saturday was proof enough of this, while still being somewhat enduring. Nats Live is an expanding summer concert series played at Nationals Park following the conclusion of a Nationals game.
The Wallflowers are the second band to perform at Nats Live this season and third overall since they started the series. Two more bands are scheduled to perform before the season is over.
The Wallflowers were performing after the second game of a double header against the Atlanta Braves. It was the third game in a four game series and while it hadn’t been raining hard enough to ever call off any of the games, it had been raining consistently, albeit lightly, all day.
Under normal circumstances fans are allowed on to the field during these concerts but considering the Nationals had an afternoon game against the Braves the next day and how wet the field was, the fans were forced to stay in the stands.
So there the Wallflowers stood on their stage constructed in the shallow outfield just beyond second base staring at an empty infield normally occupied by energetic fans. The only people standing around the stage were three photographers and a cameraman filming for the video screen that hung above centerfield.
These were not enviable conditions for the band due to circumstances beyond their control, but they went about their set completely undeterred.
Jakob Dylan, the front man and mouthpiece for the Wallflowers and obviously the bands most well known member, treated the obstacle at Nationals Park with a smile and a joke, much like he’s treated most undeserved criticism during his career.
Any inherent awkwardness and tension created by the natural environment was put to rest strictly through Dylan’s temperament and ability to make a quick joke or lighten the mood.
The announced crowd for the second game against the Braves was about 40,000, an excellent showing considering the light rain late into the evening, and it was easy to see a good portion of that crowd stayed after to watch the Wallflowers.
The fans very desperately wanted to support the Wallflowers on the field, but as it turns out that wasn’t going to be much of an issue as the concert progressed.
One of the things people tend to forget about most ball parks and this is especially true with customized ball parks constructed in at least the last decade, is how well they hold in sound. This seems kind of obvious, considering teams would like the noise their fans make to be as loud as possible and disrupt opposing teams.
The Wallflowers aren’t generally a loud band. Playing their blend of alternative rock slightly fused with blues-rock has always given them a mellow vibe, but playing at Nationals Park they were able to fill the ball park, allowing their sound to be given an extra punch they might not have been granted at a club or even an indoor arena.
Their 13 song set was mixed with songs from their soon to be released album Glad All Over and relative classics like “The Difference” and “Letters from the Wasteland.” Of course they played “One Headlight” but it didn’t close the concert and while it’s the most prevalent song in their discography, their set was a reminder they are well beyond one hit wonder status, which is a fairly obvious statement to make in hindsight.
Despite ominous conditions leading up to their concert, the Wallflowers put on excellent show, highlighting their professionalism as a well-seasoned band. They also showed off the kind of atmosphere that makes the Nats Live concert series conducive as an entertaining post-game night of music.
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