Concert Review: Aaron Blumer at The First Ward in St. Joseph, MO 12/23/12

Aaron Blumer may have learned a harsh lesson at The First Ward on December 23rd. The rare Sunday show was a great opportunity to play because most people would have the next day, Christmas Eve, off from work. It was a showcase for Blumer of sorts. He was the only performer and there were nice tickets printed up and it was $5 a head at the door.

Aaron Blumer ticket stub from his show at The First Ward on 12/23/12.

Aaron Blumer ticket stub from his show at The First Ward on 12/23/12.

He put out a call to his fan base to fill the bar with 100 people for his solo showcase and promised a relaxing night of music. He would perform stripped down versions of his songs without a full band. Along with performing several new songs this would mean the music would be unavoidably quiet. The problem was that it is hard for around 100 people not to be loud and obnoxious in a bar.

Blumer would have with him just one band member, bass player Marcus Words. Words would compliment Blumer’s singing with and acoustic guitar with bass and occasional backing vocals. They would settle down for their first set just after 8:30 for an early start. Blumer would attack songs from his self-titled CD right away comprising nearly the entire first set. He would explain that the paintings behind him on the wall and amps represented the songs he was singing. You could pinpoint the imagery he painted on the canvases behind as he sang the songs. Some were about the meanings of the songs and some were simply a vivid image from a song, like a beer bottle in a mailbox.

The second set found the crowd getting louder than the first set as Blumer played several new songs. He did do a few more from his album that he passed over earlier like “Country Cruisin'” and “Unfair Choices.” Most of his better known tunes were in the first set though, highlighted by “Hard To Hold Onto” “Living Like A Country Song” and “She Never Hit The Ground.” The stripped down performance would change some songs significantly, most notably on “See Her Coming.” The album version is fueled with redneck stomp and dirty electric guitar but the acoustic performance gave the track a whole new life.

Aaron Blumer performing at The First Ward on 12/23/12.

Aaron Blumer performing with paintings representing his songs behind him at The First Ward on 12/23/12.

The third set would feature a few covers and some more new songs. Covers like Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” delighted the crowd but his original songs proved to be much more entertaining. A song he has performed for a while now, “Crazy Love” got a good response and he promised it would be on his next album. A new original, “Wildflower” showed a heavy influence from his partner on stage, Marcus Words. It had much more of a pop hook and pop sound than many of Blumer’s other songs. Words is great at writing pop songs so it was easy to finger him as a culprit on this. Another new song “When I Think About You” showed Blumer writing differently as well and expanding his sound, showing great promise for his next album.

Several times Blumer would try to be polite in asking the crowd to be quiet but it was a futile effort. By the third set the crowd buzz was almost too much to pay attention to the performer. The bar was much too loud as the evening grew on to hear Blumer’s low-key performance. It is hard to keep the attention of such a big group of people, especially in a bar. Blumer likely found out that if he wants an intimate performance he will have to make it a smaller audience to keep the crowd reeled in.

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