Photos by G.
Van Hunt is back! The psychedelic soul rocker made his return to New York with a sold out show at the Studio at Webster Hall on September 19, 2011. I’ve seen two other guitar players who fit the above description perform live this year and I can honestly say, Van Hunt is the only one out of the 3 who is still taking chances and is growing tremendously as an artist. Van Hunt is so great live. His band is different since the last time I’ve seen him, but they are still tight. Van challenges the audience by playing his hits and best loved album tracks in different arrangements and every time I go to one of his concerts, I find myself singing along to the words not realizing what song it is until the chorus kicks in. Tonight was no different, but one reason I keep coming back to see Van Hunt perform is that the arrangements of the songs are just as great as the studio versions. It’s not just the grooves though – his lyrics are so great. He expresses many things we all think, but never have the guts to say out loud.
Van’s latest album is called “What Were You Hoping For?” and off the new album, he played the title track, “Watching You Go Crazy Is Driving Me Insane,” “North Hollywood,” “Eyes Like Pearls” and “A Time Machine Is My New Girlfriend.” The new songs are much more rock oriented than his previous albums, but for those like myself that have seen Van Hunt live before, this direction is a natural progression in sound for Van. He also played a few tracks from his unreleased 3rd album “Popular” including “The Dimples on Ur Bottom,” “SNM” as well as the final track of the night, “The Lowest 1 of My Desires,” which featured an audience sing-a-long of the chorus which is “I wanna fuck… you baby.” A video of that song will be coming soon, so stay tuned. From his second album “On The Jungle Floor,” he played “Man of the Year (Hot Stage Lights)” (but the version from his online only EP) and “Character.” From his self-titled debut, we were treated to “Dust,” “Hello Goodbye,” “Seconds of Pleasure,” “What Can I Say,” “Her December” and “Down Here in Hell,” all with different arrangements. Lucky us!
I highly recommend you check out Van Hunt in concert if you have not already done so. There are very few artists these days that are willing to take risks, but Van Hunt is one of them. Seeing Van Hunt and talking with him afterwards is the best way I could have possibly spent the final hours before my birthday, so thanks for that Van!
See the set list, after the jump.
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Photo courtesy of Van Hunt’s official website.
"What Were You Hoping For?" by Van Hunt. Available September 27, 2011
I am so excited that Van Hunt is back on the scene with another record. If you don’t know Van Hunt’s music, I recommend you remedy that immediately. His debut record, “Van Hunt” is R&B perfection. His vocals, grooves and lyrics will impress fans of Prince and Curtis Mayfield. Van’s 2nd record “On The Jungle Floor” adds a rock and roll element to the mix. His 3rd album, the very experimental “Popular” was unfortunately never released officially due to record label disputes. He’s back with his 4th (or 5th album if you count his internet only release “Use In Case of Emergency”) “What Were You Hoping For?” and you’ll be reading my comments as I listen to the record on my first listen. Van Hunt is on tour in the fall of 2011 and if you’ve never seen him live before, you must see him! He is so talented and creative, he always changes the arrangements of his songs – a quality that not only are very few artists to pull off these days but the fact is – most artists don’t even try.
1. “North Hollywood” – The album starts out with a funky rocker. Van Hunt is talking about his neighborhood North Hollywood and writing new tracks in this area. Favorite lyric: “the fastest way to a man’s pocket is on his rocket.”
2. “Watching You Go Crazy is Driving Me Insane” – Another fast rocker. Favorite lyric: “I went to my priest to beg the church for relief. He said they had bigger problems to address than me. I pressed my luck and asked for a cup of Jesus’ blood because it tastes just like grape juice.”
3. “Designer Jeans” – Psychedelic, spacey and funky! Van has some effects on his vocals and the track has a banging beat. Van mentions that his religion is Atheist. I knew I loved this brother! He talks about how people wear their prejudices like designer jeans.
4. “Plum” – Another spacey and funky jam that clocks in at 6 and a half minutes! There’s a great instrumental section at the end of the song.
5. “Falls (Violet)” – This song is a slow, country-esque track. Van says he’s “violet on the inside.”
6. “Moving Targets” – Another slow track. Van talks about how nobody can hit a moving target. It’s a love song too.
7. “Eyes Like Pearls” – The funk/rock which is very prevalent in this album is back! He talks about a girl with eyes like pearls crying precious tears.
8. “A Time Machine Is My New Girlfriend” – A garage rock track with a fast chorus. Favorite lyric “time is a play thing.”
9. “What Were You Hoping For” – The title track is mid-tempo. The chorus is very catchy as he says “Maybe that’s the mechanism to bring me closer to you. Tell me what were you hoping for?”
10. “Cross Dresser” – A funky, fast and rockin’ track. Van’s talking about wearing the clothes of his ex-girlfriend that she left behind to get to know her better. I think this song is an early contender for my favorite jam on the album.
11. “It’s a Mysterious Hustle” – The album closes off with a slow but funky jam. This is also a contender for my favorite track on the album. There’s no such thing as the “classic Van Hunt sound” because his music is very diverse, but I would say this song wouldn’t be out of place on his debut record.
I am digging this album. I am looking forward to hearing it more as it expands Van Hunt’s already large musical pallet. I think his fans will enjoy it as well and I cannot wait to hear this album performed live. New Yorkers, Van will be playing at The Studio at Webster Hall on September 19, 2011 (the day before my birthday)! You’d be foolish to miss it!
Let us know what you think!!