The KPRI (San Diego FM102.1) Green Flash Concert series at the Birch Aquarium in San Diego is a great way to spend a Wednesday night. The venue is amazing. I cannot think of any other live music venue with a view that even comes close. The Birch Aquarium raises money through this concert series and that makes going to these concerts even more worthwhile. We’ve gotten season tickets for the past two years. The fact that the concerts are on Wednesday nights makes it easier to buy the season tickets early and not worry about conflicts with other events. We’ve had issues a couple of times but it was easy to find friends willing to take the tickets!
Although there were no visible sunsets at any of the 2011 Green Flash concerts I attended, the music, food, drink, crowd, and atmosphere all added up to spectacular summer nights. They kicked the 2011 series off with Earl Thomas. He is a high energy entertainer with a powerful voice and he got the crowd moving in no time. Rain had been falling during the day, so our first Green Flash experience was indoors. Despite the weather it was one of the funnest Green Flash concerts of 2011.
Donavon Frankenreiter in June was one of the highlights of the 2011 series for me. He has a laid back surfer vibe. His song Free is a perfect example of his cool, smooth music… and how about that mustache! The stage is above the north end of the Birch Aquariums outdoor reef, and Donavon’s performance of Free inspired one woman to start dancing on the reef’s rocks, the security folks were not happy. Donavon tested her spunk by challenging her to sing on a later song… she danced quite a bit better than she sang, but she was not shy about belting it out.
In July Steve Poltz entertained the crowd with stories, good music, and a quirky attitude. I saw him at his 50th birthday bash at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. That was a fun and irreverent show, but I preferred the up close and personal feel at the Birch Aquarium. I was out of town the following month during the Brett Dennen show, but the tickets were put to good use by my girlfriend Jenny and her close friend Mary! The 2011 series was wrapped up by Fitz and the Tantrums, a very high powered act. I love their songs… Money Grabber and Don’t Gotta Work it Out.
It was an easy decision to buy season tickets again for 2012.
We missed the first concert in the 2012 Series, Eve Selis, on May 16th… my youngest son’s 18th birthday took priority, but friends enjoyed the show. Last Wednesday, we got back from a trip to Iowa just in time to see Damon Castillo and Needtobreathe perform at the June 2012 show. We had seen both acts at free KPRI Frequent Listener Concerts and knew this would be a great show.
Damon Castillo’s One Life Stand has a fun lyric and he has a smooth “always in control” voice. I’ve been on his band’s email list since we saw them perform at the Bernardo Winery but most of their shows are in the San Luis Obispo area. Check out the love song melody about two thirds of the way through the Bernardo Winery performance video of One Life Stand I found on YouTube. Fun band, fun song!
Needtobreathe has a unique sound. Although they are a southern band, banjo included… their music has a modern, crossover sound. Bear Rinehart has a great voice and emotional vocal style. At times, I hear vocals very similar to Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon, but at other times Bear Rinehart’s voice takes on a deeper richer quality. I love this band! While their most popular song is Something Beautiful which I first heard live on a Hornblower cruise – KPRI Private Listener Concert, I like several of their other songs as much or more. The Outsiders has a more southern twang to it, which makes sense as the inspiration for the song was the fact that they were feeling like outsiders in a big city. Their song Keep Your Eyes Open (the sound is good so please ignore the shaky video) has a terrific lyric and really shows off the musical abilities of the band and Bear Rinehart’s voice.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the 2012 Green Flash Concert Series. There are some bands that I’m familiar with and a couple that I have not seen before.
- July 18, 2012 – Matt Nathanson with Paul Cannon Band (Sold Out)
- August 15, 2012 – The Dunwells and The Heartless Bastards
- September 19, 2012 – Steve Poltz
Note: The Needtobreathe – Something Beautiful link I provide has some sound issues, but I like the fireworks at the end (courtesy of the San Diego Navy Base), and I caught a glimpse of myself in line at the beginning of the video. Here’s a link to a better sounding version of Something Beautiful on an earlier Hornblower Cruise.
Update: 18 July 2012. Matt Nathanson was great last night. I’d post a video, but I was singing along… no one should ever hear those tapes!!!
Update 16 August 2012. We enjoyed the Dunwells and the Heartless Bastards last night. The Dunwells have several terrific singers in the group and they put together some great harmonies. I particularly liked Elizabeth, Borrow Me, and the more upbeat and rhythmic I could be a King. The Heartless Bastards were not normal Green Flash Concert fare. The Arrow Killed the Beast was one of the unique sounds that I liked the most – very haunting music to go with Erika Wennerstrom’s strong, haunting vocals. We also got our first real “all the way into the sea” sunset at a Green Flash concert. I watched very closely (with my camera in video mode), sure that we would see a Green Flash, no such luck! But the night was gorgeous, the weather perfect, another terrific Green Flash Wednesday night.
19 September 2012 – The opening act – Berkley and Heart are a great sounding local band. Awesome harmonies and some amazing guitar runs. I sent myself an email in the middle of the second song to be sure to check these guys out again! The headliner was Steve Poltz. We have seen him three times in the last few years and enjoyed his music, but it was not quite “our style”. Last night we finally got it, or he finally was completely on his game. Whichever, it was a really fun show. I laughed so hard that I cried at least twice! He played some music off his new CD that we also loved as well as some old-crowd favorites. The music was fun, entertaining, and the stories were FUNNY!
So… that was the Green Flash Concerts for 2011 and 2012. Tons of fun and entertainment and it all goes to a good cause. We had season passes both years and I saw 8 of the 10 shows, and Jenny was at 9 of the 10 shows. I have no doubt that we will be going (and trying to get some friends there with us) in 2013. But that will be for another post.
Other Green Flash posts and more: Live Music Posts (Favorite Artists and Favorite Venues)