Last Saturday, the student activities board sponsored a concert in the Lifetime Fitness Center featuring the Counting Crows and their opening act, The Actual Tigers. Approximately 1,600 people crowded into the gym to hear the Crows' lead singer, Adam Duritz, and his band.
The band is based in the San Francisco Bay area. They have been together for ten years. Since their formation, the band has evolved in a number of ways.
Said Duritz, "We've added more people to the band. [In terms of musical evolution,] sometimes I think we have gotten better, and sometimes I feel we can't play at all. It seems ... that the ease of inspiration doesn't come as often any more. But we are better players."
Duritz is more an artist than he is a performer. He stated that when performing in front of an audience, "I want to feel something for myself. I wouldn't know how to please a crowd. You just try to please yourself and hope that pleases everyone."
His performance in the LFC was no exception. Duritz did not play to the audience, but to himself. Though he sang the popular song, "Round Here," some of the verses and melodies were different. Some students enjoyed this variation, while others did not.
Sophomore Brynn Torelli commented, "I was glad they sang the song, but I like it when they perform it the way it sounds on the album."
Some students were dissapointed that the band played new music rather than their older works.
But junior Jeff St. John commented, "It's not every day that you get the opportunity to hear music that a band has not yet released. It's cool that they are practicing their new works on you."
Duritz is not interested in sticking to what people expect. He would rather move in the direction that feels right. He even refuses to pin a style to the band's music.
"I never think about that [style]. Whatever I feel like playing is our musical style. It is the nature of journalism to try to separate things into neat categories. That is not what music is about. It is much more abstract," he said.
Though Counting Crows has little concern for pleasing others, they still wish that they were more than an off-beat college band.
One of Duritz's desires is to produce good singles. He commented, "We are not a radio band. Only once in a while do we get a song that plays on the radio."
Though his main concern is not money, he is worried about the band's ability to market themselves.
"I would like to be on radio because radio sells. We have members who have children and families.
"Everyone is concerned with money - you have to be able to make a profit, or else you will sink," he said.
Duritz's greatest challenge as an artist is blending inspiration with skill.
He stated, "I wish I could get a little better [at writing songs]. I want to be able to write a perfect gem of a song, but I seem to be missing a piece. It was easy [to write songs] when I was younger. But they are probably all crap. Inspiration does not come as easily now I think because I demand more of it."
Most students who attended the concert did not seem to think that Counting Crows was missing any pieces.
Sophomore Brian Desaulniers, Assistant Tech of the Student Events Board, commented, "I thought it went well and brought the WC community together both in its performance and in its production."
His reaction to the performance was also positive. "The closing was the best part. They were a fun band and chose a wonderful way to end the concert."
Students who set up for the concert were shocked by the amount of effort it took. "I had never worked backstage at a concert before," said senior Katie Kolaki. "We turned this little empty stage into a huge production. It took, I think, 24 of us hours to set up everything."
Kolaki was not disappointed with the experience. "It was awesome being able to be part of bringing everything together and then having front-row seats," she stated.
The band has played many venues like WC, but they prefer traveling in Europe from one musical festival to another.
Duritz said, "Festivals in Europe are the most fun because there are bands all over the place. Bands tend to travel to the same festivals, so you end up hanging out with some of the same people. We've been with Gomez, Travis, Oasis, The Cure ..."
Though the band prefers these tours, they do not dislike any location. "I like intimate crowds, but the only time I do them is at home," Duritz stated. "My idea of intimate is playing in front of a room filled with friends and family.
"I don't mind any size venue. Amphitheaters are boring, but it is nice playing outside sometimes. And some of them are really beautiful. All venues have their plusses and minuses."
Counting Crows has remained as it was before the September terrorist attacks. They have not altered their idea of art or the way in which they make it. Said Duritz "As an artist, they [the attacks] have had no effect on me whatsoever. It didn't make me think of the world any differently.
Duritz still believes that "art is about skill. You must focus your inspiration through a prism of skill."
"Take for example Van Gogh. He painted the same thing one hundred times. You look at his work and you try to figure out which sunflower is the perfect expression of his vision. But in the end, it doesn't matter. Every one of them is beautiful," he concluded.
WC students had been anticipating the event since the beginning of the school year. Many invited their friends and family to attend the performance.