Who knew you were allowed to have this much fun in Utah?
Simply said, Beck Hanson is one of the most important musical artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. I didn’t have to tell my buddy Dan this, since Beck is his favorite musician of all time as far as I can tell. At his suggestion, we decided to plan a trip down to The Land of 4% ABV Beers and see the man in action.
“Are you not ready to be entertained?!??”
Beck’s muse has led him down so many different paths it is remarkable. Consider the range of albums he has released over the last 25 years: the punky DIY feel of his slacker-rock classic debut Mellow Gold; the “fax machine anthems” on the electronic-rock masterpiece that is Odelay; the laidback but slightly paranoid oceanfront vacation vibe that permeates Mutations; the bizarre yet amazing dance and sex journey that is Midnight Vultures; the introspective, melancholy, and generally sad bastard balladry of Sea Change; the slight return to his roots found on Guero; The Information, an album that has something for everyone; the soulful and catchy tunes found on the Danger Mouse-produced Modern Guilt; the yearning and longing beauty found on the mostly acoustic and Grammy-winning Morning Phase; and most recently, the over the top techno-pop of Colors.
Although you can make a case that Morning Phase and Sea Change are cut from similar cloths, none of these two albums are truly alike and I can’t think of another artist save for Neil Young who has varied so much not only in direction or mood but in the very genre-foundation from which he creates music. His style and white boy rap aka ”rhyming Becktionary” has been an influence on so much contemporary music and so many artists of today, and he is still going strong. Although not everything he has done has been a success, he has never shied away from taking chances, and his adventurous spirit and quirky ways have made for a fascinating trip.
Touring behind Colors, his most pop-focused album to date, is not how I would have chosen to see him in full effect for the first time. I throw in the “full effect” qualifier because I did see him at Outside Lands music festival in 2012, but that was an abbreviated 45-minute set as he was opening for Foo Fighters who were in turn opening for the iconic and ridiculously awesome Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Thankfully this night wasn’t Colors or bust, as we got to hear songs from his entire body of work- and even got to see a little Beck guitar-face here and there.
As for the show, well, it was a solid if not amazing musical display, but boy was it fun. We heard favorites such as “Devil’s Haircut”, “Loser”, “Debra” (performed solo), “Chemtrails”, and “Where It’s at”. While Beck did play some guitar, he was mostly laying down vocals and sending out some seriously positive and energetic vibes. This guy is having the time of his life, with a huge backing band and elaborate stage setup, and you can tell he is enjoying just how far he has come.
When he came out from the encore break wearing a white suit jacket and hat, he went into full-on crooner mode on “Where It’s At”, and even took a moment to sit and chat with the audience. For the show closer, The Voidz came back out and joined him in a frolicking, jammy cover of The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”.
The New Pollution
I’m So Free
Go It Alone
Up All Night
Where it’s At
One Foot in the Grave
Don’t You Want Me (The Human League cover)
Spotify playlist link:
My “Best of Beck” playlist link: