Blue October has been making music for over 20 years. I have a lot of music loving friends that are big fans of the band, but they were never on my radar. That all changed Monday night when I saw them live for the first time. Throughout the show, I just kept saying to myself “Why am I just discovering this band now???”
While Blue October is new to me, they clearly weren’t new to their dedicated fan base who showed up on a Monday night for a re-scheduled show date from April. We arrived at the venue a couple of hours before the show to grab some dinner first, and there was already a line formed outside waiting for the doors to open.
Musically, Blue October is impressive, and I already can’t wait to see them again. But, as I researched the band and their history, I’ve learned that what endears them to their fans is so much more than the music. The message in the music and the struggles that lead singer Justin Furstenfeld personally shares has a huge impact on their fans.
Keep reading to learn more about Blue October and the amazing show they put on Monday night, as well as some personal stories of how Blue October inspires their fans every day!
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THE QUEEN – WILMINGTON, DE
HISTORY OF THE VENUE
The Queen is located in Wilmington, DE – right in the heart of its downtown area. Downtown Wilmington has gone through quite a resurgence over the last several years. There are new restaurants, a revived music scene with The Queen and The Grand, and a new microbrewery that opened earlier this year.
The building that The Queen currently occupies has quite a history. It was built in the 1800s as a hotel. In 1916, the building was converted to a movie theater, as many venues were at the time. The building closed its doors in 1959 and sat empty for the next 50 years.
In 2011, the venue reopened under the name of World Café Live at the Queen. The owners and operators of World Café Live in Philadelphia took possession of the venue to bring live music to Wilmington. As you can imagine, after a building has sat vacant for 50 years, a massive renovation was required. About $25 million was spent to restore the building and turn it into a 2-story music venue.
While operating as World Café Live at the Queen, the venue featured a smaller and fully-seated upstairs room, that also served as a restaurant. The larger downstairs area was able to handle about 800 people at full capacity.
In early 2017, World Café Live announced that they were no longer able to operate the venue. In the announcement regarding the closure, World Café Live president Hal Real stated that despite their attempt to operate the venue as a seven-day-a-week operation, they were unable to do so.
After several months of the building being empty, Live Nation announced that it was taking over operation of the building. Renamed as simply “The Queen”, the venue is now part of Live Nation’s House of Blues division.
THE VENUE TODAY
As for the venue itself, Live Nation has made some changes. The original box office/merchandise area was re-done, and there is now a lounge area with some tables behind the box office. The restaurant in the upstairs area is only open for private events.
In the downstairs part of the venue, Live Nation has only made some minor changes. They’ve kept the beautiful historic touches of the building intact.
As for artists, Live Nation has clearly used the power of its brand to bring some larger acts to the venue.
Tip #1: Parking to attend a show at The Queen is usually quite easy to find. There is street parking available in the area. Be sure to read the signs and pay the meters accordingly, although most street parking is free after 6:00 p.m. If you don’t see parking on Market Street, try checking some of the streets around the block in the general vicinity. There are also several lots, as well as a parking garage nearby.
Tip #2: If you want to get dinner before the show, there are a couple of restaurants right on Market Street in downtown Wilmington. They are all within easy walking distance of The Queen. We’ve eaten at Chelsea Tavern, and it’s a great spot with good food and a good drink selection. Just another block down is Stitch House Brewery. They have great sandwiches and skillets, as well as some pretty good beer. If you want to go a little further away, Iron Hill Brewery and Joe’s Crab Shack are located right next to each other, and are both good. Those options are not within walking distance, so plan your timing accordingly.
Tip #3: The Queen has started offering a limited food menu. There is a menu at the bar on the wall on the right. To get food, place your order with the bartender. There is a small table in the back next to the bar with a heat lamp. Your food will come out and be set down there. It’s self-serve to pick up.
Tip #4: The Queen is a pretty small venue. For most shows, the bottom part of the room is General Admission/Standing Room. Because the room is so small, there really isn’t a bad place to stand. If you get there before the show starts, it’s usually easy to get right up front. We like to stand on the left side of the stage. It lets us get in and out to the bathroom/bar easily.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Flagship was formed in Charlotte, NC in 2011. The band consists of Drake Margolnick (vocals, guitar) and Michael Finster (drums). Finster was in another band called Campbell and Margolnick was doing solo work, when the two met and decided to join forces.
They recently released an EP – The Ladder – which is a collection of some of their favorite unreleased material, along with a new version of the single “The Ladder”.
I’m glad we got into the venue a few minutes before the posted 8:00 p.m. start time, because Flagship took the stage at 7:50 p.m.
This is the last show that Flagship is opening for Blue October. The guys thanked Blue October for having them on tour, and talked about how nice they all were. They said while it was going to be nice to be sleeping in their own beds again, the end of the tour was bittersweet because they had so much fun.
While Flagship is technically just made up of Margolnick and Finster, they had two other musicians joining them on stage for the tour. They were introduced (from what I could hear) as Brandon on bass guitar and Zack on lead guitar. The two were a great addition to the music, including Brandon singing back-up throughout the show.
You can find out more information about Flagship on their website at www.flagshipofficial.com.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Blue October has been around since 1995. They were formed in Houston, TX by brothers Justin and Jeremy Furstenfeld and Ryan Delahoussaye. The current line-up of the band consists of Justin Furstenfeld (lead vocals, guitar), Jeremy Furstenfeld (drums, percussion), Ryan Delahoussaye (violin/viola, mandolin, piano, backing vocals), Matt Noveskey (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Will Knaak (lead guitar).
The band first gained attention in 1998 when former Kid Rock manager Michael Rand saw them play at the Atchafalaya River Café in Houston. Rand’s agency booked them to play over 350 dates. They released their first album – The Answers – in 1998.
Their first album led them to signing a record deal with Universal Records. Under Universal, the band released their second album – Consent to Treatment – in 1999. Unfortunately, Universal dropped Blue October after just a year.
Despite being dropped, Blue October carried on. They signed with Rainmaker Artists, and released their third album – History for Sale. The first single from that album – “Calling You” – started getting regular play on a radio station in Dallas, and it slowly spread across the country. This led to Blue October getting attention from several record labels. They ultimately re-signed with Universal.
By 2006, Blue October started to see some commercial success. Their singles “Hate Me” and “Into the Ocean” from the album Foiled were both decent successes on the charts. The band also got national attention by performing on shows like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Blue October followed up the success of Foiled with their fifth studio album – Approaching Normal. The album contained singles “Dirt Room” and “Say It”. The band was starting to sell out shows and gaining a big following around the country.
With the release of their 6th studio album – Any Man In America – the band chose to become independent and form their own record label (Up/Down Records) for distributing their music. They have continued to remain independent. Their latest album – I Hope You’re Happy – will be released in August, and the single of the same name has been getting radio play on alternative radio stations around the country.
Blue October took the stage at 9:00 p.m. As the band took the stage, they appeared in silhouette with blue lighting around them. The crowd cheered as the guys took the stage, but went crazy when lead singer Justin Furstenfeld walked out.
They immediately went into “I Want It” followed by one of my personal favorites “Sway”.
While the fans love the whole band, Justin is clearly the star of the show. In fact, a couple of guys in the crowd kept yelling “Justin” in between songs. It was almost to the point of being annoying. Justin even joked and said “Yep, that’s my name”.
As I mentioned in my introduction to this post, Blue October means so much to a lot of their fans. Not only are they nice guys that play good music, but Justin has been very forthcoming throughout his career about his mental health issues. Many of the lyrics of their music reflect some of the struggles that Justin has gone through in his life. In fact, Justin has a book out called “Crazy Making” that contains the lyrics to many of their songs and talks about some of his struggles. Click on the link to purchase the book directly from Amazon.
One of the most moving moments I have ever experienced at a concert, was when Justin was introducing the song “Into the Ocean”. You could hear a pin drop, as he described what he goes through every day as someone who suffers from depression and anxiety. Justin talked about how he wakes up every day in a panic. His inner self makes him get out of bed, wash his face, and go out into the world. Justin shared that he knows that this is a feeling that he is going to have every day of his life, but each day he makes a choice to get out of bed. He said that every day he gets out of bed, it always works out.
After “Into the Ocean”, Blue October followed with a song Justin said they hadn’t played in a while – “18th Floor Balcony” – which was a treat for the crowd. Before the song, Justin introduced new guitarist Will Knaak, who he said was so talented he had raised the bar for the rest of the band.
Blue October wrapped their main set with their new single “I Hope Your Happy”, which Justin later said had reached #15 on the alternative rock charts this week.
Blue October’s encore set was a great representation of the diversity in their music. After a quick tease on the guitar of Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”, Justin and Ryan did an amazing acoustic version of “Hate Me”. Justin’s voice was incredible.
From the slow and passionate “Hate Me”, they went into “I Wanna Come Back Home” which is a new song off the new album, and had more of a pop sound to it. Before wrapping up, Justin declared that he wanted to dance, and Blue October went to more of a hip hop sound with “Houston Heights”. Their final song made me feel like I was at a Metallica concert, with the heavy “Leave It In the Dressing Room (Shake It Up)”. The song even included Justin spraying the crowd with water from his water bottle!
Blue October really appreciates their fans. While we didn’t get a chance to meet them, I spoke to some fans that shared their personal stories about interactions they had with Justin and the band. One young lady said she shared her mental health struggles with Justin, and he took the time to talk to her and give her encouragement.
If you aren’t familiar with Blue October, listen to their music. If the music doesn’t get you, go to one of their shows. If you still aren’t convinced, stick around and meet the guys after the show. After Monday night, Blue October has converted me to a lifelong fan.
Blue October is currently on the road promoting their new album I Hope You’re Happy. You can catch them on the road all summer and into the fall. Check out their website for a full listing of tour dates at www.blueoctober.com.
Set List (click on any link to purchase the song directly on Amazon): I Want It, Sway, Should Be Loved, The Chills, Say It, Into the Ocean, 18th Floor Balcony, Home, The Feel Again (Stay), Dirt Room, X-Amount of Words, Coal Makes Diamonds, I Hope You’re Happy Encore: Hate Me, I Wanna Come Back Home, Fear, Houston Heights, Leave It In the Dressing Room (Shake It Up)
Are you a Blue October fan? Do you have a story about meeting the band? Have questions about Blue October or Flagship? Please comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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