As the smoke starts to fill up on stage you can hear the excitement of the crowd, most are already talking about the anticipation of the bands second show the following night. But it’s when the house lights go off that sets the awaiting crowd into pandemonium and as soon as Justin Furstenfeld takes center stage, it was easy to see what the crowd was waiting for. The band opened the show with “Sway”, the second song off of their 2013 album of the same title and right from the start, Justin had the stage presence, swag and charisma very similar to that of Freddie Mercury that just captivates the crowd. I Hope You’re Happy is the bands latest album released in August of 2018 on their label UP/DOWN Brando. It has produced 3 hit singles including “Daylight”, “How To Dance In Time” and the title track “I Hope You’re Happy” which has hit #28 on the Billboard Top 200 but well within the top 10 of every other major U.S. Billboard chart. The elements of Blue October are Justin’s brother Jeremy on drums, Ryan Delahoussaye on violin/keyboard/vocals, Matt Noveskey on bass and Will Knaak on lead guitar who had recently replaced Matt Ostrander last February.
Blue October is one of the few bands that have the ability to create multiple layers of music to their live show that most bands would have to resort to using samples or patches in order to achieve what they can. A large part of that is the abilities of Will Knaak and Ryan Delahoussaye. Both can create atmospheric type rhythms and phrasings that when paired with Justin’s vocal range and harmonies up front with Matt and Jeremy handling the downbeat and percussion, the results are memorizing to see and hear. Through out the show, Justin had done something that I have personally never seen in the 20 plus years that I have been going to concerts. And that is openly talk about his battle with addiction. Frustenfeld has been sober for years, but in talking about it, it let’s people know that they can also recover and to not give up. He had thanked the fans for supporting him and to his own band for helping and loving him enough to stick by him while he took care of himself. I personally have had people in my life hit absolute rock bottom. But without the people who truly care for them and want them to get the help they need, it’s scary to think about where they’d be today.
The show produced one hit after another, but the high point for me was the acoustic arrangement of “Hate Me” from 2006’s Foiled. Contrary to the studio version with electric guitars and more of a heavier feel, this was filled with emotion and remorse that rendered the entire building silent. The song was written as an apology to those he had hurt in the past do to his battle with addiction. But the singers main focus of his song of atonement was his own mother which adds to the tone of the performance. The band closed out their 17 song set with the fan favorite “Hope You’re Happy” and if you happened to ask that to any fan walking out at the end of the night, I assure you, everyone left happy.
Blue October started The King Tour in Sacramento on March 15th and is running through June 16th in San Diego. Don’t forget, you can buy tickets to any remaining shows and sign up for the VIP meet and great packages which are available on the bands website, as well as all tour merch, albums and info.