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Chris Robinson Brings Back the Music of The Black Crowes With As The Crow Flies!

The Black Crowes had huge commercial success in the early 1990’s.  Their charismatic front man – Chris Robinson – had a powerful voice and an even more powerful stage presence, which helped them gain their popularity.

 

As The Crow Flies takes the stage at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia.
As The Crow Flies played the second show of their short tour in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

 

As with many bands – particularly when siblings are involved – personalities often get in the way.  Sometimes it’s creative differences.  Other times, it’s a fight for power.  Still other times, it’s just the drain of being together on the road day after day.  Chris and his brother Rich couldn’t make it work, and The Black Crowes went off their separate ways.  Chris formed a new band, which was a totally different genre of music and didn’t play any of The Black Crowes music.  Did that mean we were never going to have another chance to hear those amazing songs from The Black Crowes live again?

But, earlier this year, Chris announced that he had pulled a group of musicians together and they were hitting the road to bring back to life all of that great music!  As The Crow Flies kicked off a set of limited tour dates.  We had the opportunity to see their second show of the tour in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.

Keep reading to find out more about the show!

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THE VENUE

ELECTRIC FACTORY

Electric Factory is a Philadelphia live music institution. The venue has been hosting live music in the Philadelphia area for over 40 years!

 

The outside sign at the Electric Factory showing Ben Franklin.
The Electric Factory plays off its Philadelphia roots as well as its name. There are lots of images of Ben Franklin around, including this one on the outside of the building.

 

The original Electric Factory was opened in 1968 by Sheldon Kaplan, Herbert Spivak, Jerry Spivak and Allen Spivak. This first incarnation of Electric Factory only stayed open until 1973. It was originally located in an old tire warehouse on the corner of 22nd and Arch Streets in the Center City area of Philadelphia. Shortly after opening, they brought on Larry Magid to book their shows.

In 1995, the current venue, which is a converted electric factory located on N. 7th Street between Willow and Spring Garden Streets, was opened. Electric Factory holds up to 3,000 people, and is all standing-room only. The venue has been the filming location of several live shows of bands including Yellowcard and The Fray.

 

The cool looking video screen hanging inside the Electric Factory.
There were lots of cool features inside the venue. I especially liked this cool video screen hanging to the left of the stage.

 

Tip #1: If you want to save on service fees on tickets, buy your tickets at the box office with cash. Electric Factory does not charge any service fees for tickets purchased with cash at the box office. Their box office is open Monday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. (they open at 10 a.m. on Fridays). The box office is also open on any show day until the performer takes the stage.

 

The box office is located outside the entrance to the Electric Factory.
The box office for Electric Factory is located right outside the entrance to the venue.

 

Tip #2: There are lots of good places near the venue to grab a few beers or get something to eat before the show. On Spring Garden Street within a few blocks of the venue is Silk City Diner and Yards Brewing Company. Another great place is Roy-Pitz Barrel House, which is where we stopped before this show. The food was great and the beer was delicious. Tuesday through Friday they have a happy hour from 5 -7 p.m. They have various drink specials, including all of their 16 oz drafts are only $3.

 

A plate of wings from Roy-Pitz Barrel House.
The food at Roy-Pitz Barrel House was delicious. We started out with the wings as an appetizer.

 

Pasta entree with duck and fig at Roy-Pitz Barrel House.
For my entrée, I had the pasta with duck and figs. It also had a delicious cream sauce.

 

A pint of beer from Roy-Pitz Barrel House.
Of course, the beer was great too!

 

Tip #3: If you don’t want to walk to another restaurant, you can eat inside the Electric Factory. There are a couple of food trucks set up inside the venue. There is even a coffee bar.

 

Food trucks parked inside the Electric Factory.
You can grab something to eat inside the venue too at one of the food trucks!

 

Tip #4: There is a parking lot right at the venue. At this show, they were charging $15. Space is limited and it fills up fast. There was another lot further down 7th Street. There was no sign showing the price, so we pulled in and asked. They told us it was $20, after we had already pulled in and parked! I definitely felt scammed. Lesson learned for next time. You can also park along 7th Street, but note that all the parking there is metered, and you have to pay the meter until midnight. If you are willing to walk a little further, you can find parking along Spring Garden Street that is not metered.

 

The balcony area at the Electric Factory.
There is a second story balcony that offers a cool view of the stage.

 

 

THE SHOW

ONCE AND FUTURE BAND

ABOUT THE BAND

Once and Future Band is based out of Oakland, CA. The band is made up of members Joel Robinow (keyboards, guitar, vocals), Raj Ojha (drums, percussion, recording engineer), Eli Eckert (bass, guitar, vocals) and Raze Regal (guitar).

The guys have made music together for many years through a number of different projects including Drunk Horse, Howlin Rain, and East Bay Grease. They’ve come together as Once and Future Band to perform and record Joel’s massive library of songs.

Their album – Once & Future Band – was released in January of 2017. Their music has a 1970’s vibe to it, that reminds you of classic bands like Pink Floyd, Yes, and Queen.

THE PERFORMANCE

Once and Future Band hit the stage at 8:00 p.m. and opened with their song “Heavenly Bodies”. As mentioned above, their sound is definitely reminiscent of the 1970’s. Some of the melodies remind me of The Beatles from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band era. The keyboard makes you think of Rush.

 

Once and Future Band takes the stage at the Electric Factory.
Once and Future Band kicked off the night with their 1970’s influenced music.

 

The band played through several of their songs, including the first song off their album – “How Does It Make You Feel?” Several of the songs included fairly long musical interludes.

In general, this is a very talented band musically, however, the music didn’t translate well live for me. I thought some of the songs seemed to go on too long, and they started to all blend together. I think many people in the crowd felt the same way, as the response to the band was pretty tepid. Even Robinow made a comment after one song that the response could be described as a “smattering of applause”.

 

Once and Future Band playing on stage at the Electric Factory.
Despite a crowd that wasn’t very enthusiastic, Once and Future Band put everything into their set.

 

The fact that they didn’t seem to get the crowd moving didn’t stop Once and Future Band from giving their all to their set. Robinow also kept his sense of humor throughout. At the end of the set, he mentioned that there was merchandise for sale including the band. For the low, low price of $49.95, you can own a member of the band.

Once and Future Band is currently on the road touring North America. You can find more information about them and their tour on their website at www.onceandfutureband.com, or any of their social media.

AS THE CROW FLIES

ABOUT THE BAND

The Black Crowes formed in 1989, and hit their peak in the early to mid-90’s. Their first studio album – Shake Your Money Maker – featured a number of hits including “Hard to Handle”, “She Talks to Angels”, and “Jealous Again”.

In January of 2015, the band officially broke up. Guitarist Rich Robinson announced that he and his brother (lead singer) Chris Robinson, could not agree on ownership of the band. The band members went their separate ways and focused on their own projects. Chris Robinson started focusing full-time on his side project – Chris Robinson Brotherhood.  Rich Robinson formed his own band with a couple of the members of The Black Crowes called The Magpie Salute.

We went to see Chris Robinson Brotherhood open for Gov’t Mule last year. Frankly, it was a little disappointing. I kept wanting to hear a song from The Black Crowes, but that’s not what Chris Robinson Brotherhood is about, and you can’t blame him for not wanting to play those songs. You can read more about that show here:

 

Gov’t Mule Featuring The Chris Robinson Brotherhood

 

However, Chris Robinson must want to hear those old songs by The Black Crowes again too. He’s formed a group of five other musicians to help him play songs from Robinson’s musical history. The musicians include Marcus King (guitar), Audley Freed (guitar), Adam MacDougall (keyboard), Andy Hess (bass) and Tony Leone (drummer). MacDougall was a member of The Black Crowes before their break-up, and is a current member of Chris Robinson Brotherhood.  Freed and Hess were also members of The Black Crowes.

 

As The Crow Flies on stage at the Electric Factory.
As The Crow Flies is Chris Robinson’s “cover band” version of The Black Crowes. Only Robinson and MacDougall are from the original band.

THE PERFORMANCE

As The Crow Flies took the stage at 9:20 p.m. and opened with one of The Black Crowes’ big hits – “Remedy”.

 

 

Chris Robinson took the stage wearing his standard loose shirt – in this case a coral color – and tight jeans. He’s still as thin as a rail and his hair and beard are still long (just a little more gray)! But most importantly, his voice is still strong! He sounded amazing.

You also definitely got the feeling that Chris was thoroughly enjoying playing all of the old Black Crowes songs. He had a smile on his face the entire time, and was dancing and clapping. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the music as well. Chris’ voice just fits that kind of music so well!

 

Chris Robinson playing the harmonica during the As The Crow Flies show.
Chris Robinson seemed to be really enjoying playing all of the old songs from The Black Crowes. We even got to hear him on harmonica a few times.

 

As The Crow Flies played through The Black Crowes’ library including all the hits, as well as more obscure songs. The musicians that Chris had with him were amazing as well. Both King and Freed had some great guitar solos throughout. MacDougall was also featured several times on the keyboard.

Chris didn’t have a lot of commentary during the show. At one point, he asked how everyone was doing and if we were “feeling as good as we can on a Wednesday night”. He even gave it a hashtag – #sinfullygoodwednesdaynight. Outside of that little interlude, there was very little talking and just playing the music.

While they did tend to get a bit “jammy” for me, which made a couple of songs feel too long, all in all I loved the show. If As The Crow Flies are coming your way on this short tour, be sure to check them out!

 

As The Crow Flies on stage at the Electric Factory.
As The Crow Flies are playing a limited number of shows, so be sure to check them out if they are coming to a city near you.

 

As The Crow Flies are playing shows across the U.S. this April and May.

Set List:  Remedy, Sting Me, Twice As Hard, By Your Side, Sister Luck, High Head Blues, Good Friday, Almost Cut My Hair (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover), Wiser for the Time, She Talks To Angels, Thorn In My Pride, My Morning Song, Jealous Again, Hard to Handle, Hush (Joe South cover)  Encore:  I’d Love to Change the World (Ten Years After cover)

Are you a fan of Chris Robinson and The Black Crowes? Want to know more about As The Crow Flies or Once and Future Band? Comment below or e-mail me at tips2livebywriter@gmail.com.

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