Counting Crows, Citizen Cope Keep It Mellow at The Woodlands

Counting Crows, Citizen Cope
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
October 8, 2015

If you have ever ventured up north to the Woodlands for a concert, then no doubt you have encountered a mess of traffic on I-45. The trip to watch the Counting Crows and Citizen Cope on Thursday was definitely an exception for the standard drive time, as there was not a single slowdown or snarl from downtown to the Woodlands Parkway. The reason was easy to figure out — Thursday was also a huge night for Houston sports. The Texans were showcasing their skills (or lack thereof) on national television. The Astros were faring a bit better in the rain-delayed Game 1 of the ALDS. The Houston Cougars were upping their undefeated record against Southern Methodist. The lawn for the show at the Pavilion was also closed, severely limiting the capacity for the concert.

As I was walking from the working area to the photo pit, I found my self in a pungent smoky haze. It was then I realized that I was trailing in the wake of Clarence Greenwood's wake. The artist better known as Citizen Cope had perhaps getting into his right state of mind before taking the stage to perform for a small but excited crowd. He started off flat and his somber mood seemed to match many of his songs. Upon hearing a slowed-down arrangement of "Sideways," I had to question if I was actually feeling the side effects of the secondhand smoke.

Greenwood and company picked it up and came alive with the upbeat grooves of fan favorites "Let the Drummer Kick" and "Bullet and a Target." The most beautiful song of the night was "Marie," a Randy Newman cover.

After a quick set change the easily recognizable silhouette of Adam Duritz and his lion-like mane sauntered through the fog and dim lights, along with his bandmates. After starting with "Sullivan Street" from classic 1993 debut August and Everything After, for 90 minutes the Counting Crows played to a happy crowd that danced and sung along.

The Crows are known for changing up their set list nightly and rarely playing the exact same thing. After singing "I Wish I Was a Girl," Duritz proclaimed that he loved singing that song but he also loved singing the next one but it was a weird transition. They promptly started "Accidentally in Love," the song featured in Shrek 2 and then transitioned to "Recovering the Satellites." Sad, happy, sad. "Well, I fucked up the set list," Duritz said. "Note to self, don't play those songs in that order again."

If Duritz was frustrated with the flow, though, the crowd did not seem to mind at all. The simple LED backdrop changed song to song, displaying simple 16-bit graphics that let the music be the focal point of the show. Personal favorites were "A Long December" and "Hanginaround" played back to back. None of the songs were the album versions, but their sound was album-quality and the different arrangements made seeing this band live even more special.

The Crowd: Typical talkative Houston crowd on their phones checking scores.

Number of Wardrobe Changes: Three. Duritz started out in jeans and a Get Up Kids T-shirt, then walked offstage halfway through the set and returned wearing the iconic banana Velvet Underground shirt and changed again during the encore, this time sporting Mott the Hoople All the Young Dudes shirt.

Personal Bias: I wanted to grow my hair like Adam Duritz my junior year in high school.

Overheard In the Crowd: "Sideways!!!!" — a latecomer screaming a request to Citizen Cope. People just looked at him because they didn't have the heart to tell him they he played it four songs back.
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Jackson is a freelance photographer and writer covering a variety of music and sporting events in the Houston area. He has contributed to the Houston Press since 2013.
Contact: Jack Gorman