TVD Live Shots: The Posies at De Helling, Utrecht, 10/11

This is the first time I’ve seen The Posies live, having been a huge fan now for nearly three decades and it was not what I expected—at all. It reminded me of the first time I saw self-help guru Tony Robbins speak live, where every other word out of his mouth was an F-bomb. I was shocked (not offended by any means) because I had always assumed he was pretty clean-cut and conservative. Not the case. The same thing happened in Utrecht last week. I went to see one of my favorite bands from the early ’90s live and was shocked at what I saw. I, of course, expected the incredible songs and the brilliant harmonies, but I didn’t expect it delivered in true punk rock fashion.

Holy shit these guys were on fire! I was expecting a laid-back singer/songwriter-styled power pop show. What I got instead was nothing short of beautiful, heartfelt rock ‘n’ roll chaos. It was a roller coaster ride that very quickly became one of the best shows I’ve ever seen, indeed top 5. There were crashing guitars, spot-on harmonies, double jumps, a drummer climbing on top of his kit, and most importantly the songs and the chemistry of two of the world’s most undercelebrated songwriting teams.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me take you back to 1993 when I first heard The Posies. It was a confusing year for music as grunge continued to dominate, hip-hop’s east coast vs. west coast feud was taking shape, and Whitney Houston was breaking records with the release of The Bodyguard soundtrack and a single that would redefine her career. But there was something else happening in the background; Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, better known as The Posies, would release a power pop masterpiece that would redefine the genre.

Frosting on the Beater was a game changer. The Posies showed that the lush harmonies of power pop didn’t always need to be jangly and happy, but instead could have a dark side. They took the best of the early Beatles and slammed it head first into the dark world of Seattle grunge. The result was a genuinely original record delivered at a pivotal time for a confused industry looking for the next big thing.

While traveling for work in Amsterdam last week, I noticed that The Posies would be playing in the town of Utrecht which is a quick train ride away. I jumped at the opportunity to see the original “Frosting” lineup of Ken and Jon along with Dave Fox on bass and Mike Musburger on drums.

From start to finish the show was absolutely brilliant. The venue was jam-packed, and The Posies would deliver a career spanning set proving that time has been very kind to them as they sounded absolutely stellar and made it all look too easy. Highlights for me were, of course, the songs from Frosting including “Dream All Day,” “Flavor of the Month,” “Definite Door,” and what I consider to be one of the best songs in the history of songwriting, “Solar Sister.”

This show reignited my love for a band that helped shape my musical tastes for decades to come. On top of that they sat down with me during dinner at the venue for an interview and man do these guys have some stories! Stay tuned for the interview to follow, but I had to get this review up as the tour continues across Europe.

Along with the band’s 30-year anniversary, they’re also running a PledgeMusic campaign to crowdfund the licensing of three of their first albums from Universal. I just pre-ordered the super deluxe signed vinyl box set and from the looks of the liner notes, it going to be spectacular.

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