“Ain’t Nothing Wrong” With Robert Randolph
Tuesday night was “Family” night at The State Theatre as Robert Randolph & The Family Band performed, promoting their new album, “We Walk This Road”. In an interview with Robert before the show, he said it was the band’s second time performing in State College, the first being a bar show he believed to have been at Cafe 210 West.
The opening band, Tauk, was basically an Incubus replica: very technical, beat driven music accompanied by strong vocals. While there wasn’t an exorbitant amount of energy given off by the band, you could tell that they took their music seriously and enjoyed performing. This enjoyment, however, was not shared by many of the audience members. A primarily 30+ aged crowd, Tauk’s music seemed a bit heavy for its audience and some of the old folks were even seen covering their ears. The band was not entirely rejected, however, and over time the younger members of the crowd turned into a sea of bobbleheads, nodding along with the music.
By the time Robert Randolph & The Family Band took the stage, I was expecting a packed house full of energy. This was not the case, however, as three-quarters full crowd of 40 and 50 somethings remained seated, sipping their wine and politely applauding. It wasn’t until three songs in that they got on their feet and started dancing, prompted by Robert (and a few glasses of wine) to do so. This energy lingered throughout the show, though, and a few songs later some of the women in the audience joined the band to dance with them on stage.
The night was filled with covers and interpolations of other songs, including “Thriller” by Michael Jackson, “People Get Ready/One Love” by Bob Marley, “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers, and “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin. These often caught the audience off guard and were met with much applause.
While Robert was the main focus of the performance, his band did not shy away from the spotlight, often trading solos and even switching instruments at one point. Robert’s sister, who was singing back-up vocals, played the drums while the drummer took an opportunity to dance around the stage. It was the best drumming performance by a vocalist I’ve seen since Justin Bieber. The band also included Robert’s cousin who looked strangely like Kevin Eubanks of the Tonight Show band, and was even wearing a Tonight Show t-shirt.
The show closed with a double encore, with their most popular song “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That” in the first encore spot. As fans began to file out after the song was over, the band came on for one final performance.
Despite a slow start, the night became full of energy. The sprinkling of students among the crowd seemed to spark a flame in the older audience members, producing a lively atmosphere that lasted the entire evening.
Robert Randolph and the Family Band continue their tour tonight in Toronto. Check out our pictures and audio interview below.