For more photos from the show, see our slideshow here. Aftermath can recognize when a band connects with people on a different level than we could ever fathom personally. We've waded in Faygo cola with Juggalos, sat with bluehairs at a Neil Diamond concert and consorted with screaming girls at a John Mayer show. Those connections are born of brotherhood, nostalgia and desire, respectively; for Blue October fans, it's a shared two-hour catharsis. We are all now fully aware at what, during the band's encore, Justin Furstenfeld had to say from the Showgrounds stage about the Houston Press' John Nova Lomax. Aftermath was actually returning from the bathroom inside the racetrack's main indoor concourse when Furstenfeld told the crowd he was "pissed off," so our knowledge of what went down comes from YouTube, Twitter and a phone call from the band's publicist as we headed back to the stage. And besides, Aftermath wasn't thinking about any of that as we watched the show. Anything that we could say against Blue October won't change the fact that upwards of 6,000 folks stood in the racetrack's infield, hanging on Furstenfeld's every vocal quiver. Simply put, he holds that legion of fans in the palm of his hand, and they see something universal in his lyrics.
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The band opened with "Come in Closer," from 2003's History for Sale, and for the rest of the night hopscotched through each of their incarnations, but held closest to last year's Approaching Normal. Violinist Ryan Delahoussaye was involved in a motorcycle crash the day before, and after the initial adrenaline of the opening three songs wound down, seemed to be ailing for the rest of the show. His right arm looked nearly immobile, and he was constantly icing down the limb while taking breaks when he could. The uninitiated on hand were clearly clamoring for a single, and with "Into the Ocean" came a feeling of palpable relief. There seemed to be two sections of the crowd: One for the old-guard Houston fans from the group's Fitzgerald's days; the other half who only knew October from the radio, and may have not even realized the band is originally from their own city. Personally, Furstenfeld's message may not be what we want to hear, but for some, it's like he is echoing their every thought. Maybe someone out there in that crowd was saved by something he sang. In that respect, Blue October is pop psychiatry in the truest sense of the term.