Anyone who made it out to the Pub & Grill at Santa Fe Brewing Company Sunday night (1/17) truly got a treat—New Orleans'
played its first Santa Fe-area show and didn't disappoint. The band is touring the country on its 14th (!) annual Mardi Gras tour, but from the sheer volume of energy packed into every show, one would think they're fresh on the scene and still beyond-psyched to actually be playing real live gigs. But no, these people who love what they do
so freaking much
There are a lot of musicians who should take a cue from the Fred LeBlanc School of Crowd-Pleasing. Seriously, this dude is a force of nature. He's both the frontman and the drummer, and between talking to individual people in the crowd, specializing in call-and-response bits and exuding a unique brand of over-the-top, almost terrifying enthusiasm, he can get even the most uptight wanker in the crowd to let loose and "go insane on the count of three." (I couldn't believe that every time Fred urged the audience to "go insane" at the end of a countdown, everyone actually
—it never got old. Ten or 12 times in and everyone would still jump up and down and scream and go totally nuts when he told them to.)
Below the jump, check out some videos I was able to capture before I caught the bug, put the damn camera away and started dancing.
Here, Fred apparently thought the audience wasn't feeling it enough. Oh, we were feeling it by the end of this, believe you me.
I just felt the need to capture this for posterity. I don't think he knows he's doing it half the time.
Okay, since you asked, one last aside.
Back in the day—2002, to be exact—a wee high-schoolian Charlotte Jusinski cut the last few classes of the school day and ventured from her home in New Jersey to Irving Plaza in Manhattan to catch a concert of one of her most favoritest bands, Better than Ezra. Opening for BTE that evening was Cowboy Mouth, another band out of New Orleans, and of whom Charlotte had never heard.
Enough third-person. That show was
. Really and truly. Eight years later and I still find myself thinking about it on occasion. I was front and center, directly in front of Fred, so by the end of it I was totally drenched in spit and sweat (none of it mine), my throat was raw and I was almost too worn out to get psyched for BTE. But I did, of course. After the Santa Fe show I stopped to chat with Cowboy Mouth guitarist John Thomas Griffith and told him how I still have a drumstick that I caught from that show (over the Christmas break at home I found it in my childhood bedroom, stuck inside a water bottle with an Irving Plaza logo that I stole from the stage after Cowboy Mouth's set—you get thirsty in those crowds, and there was no way in hell I was giving up my spot in front of the stage to go get a drink. It became a joke that, after drinking from Fred's bottle, that I'd "caught an STD from the cowboy mouth"—but at the Santa Fe show, Fred assured the crowd that he had no communicable diseases, so I feel better now, eight years after the fact). He said that personalities clashed a bit on the tour with BTE, which was a bummer, but I urged them to re-think it. I mean, come on. Come
. It was awesome.