The Rise and Fall of Blind Melon

Metro - Chicago

September 27, 1995

First Appeared in The Music Box, December 1995, Volume 2, #11

Written by John Metzger

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Blind Melon passed through Chicago in late September on what would prove to be its last visit to the Windy City. Shannon Hoon, like Jerry Garcia, recently passed into that other world. The band's performance took place at Metro, an intimate club in the northern part of the city. Cameras were on hand to film a video, and the band was in rare form. Slashing through most of the material on its two albums as part of a blistering, though all-too-short 90-minute set, the group and Hoon outdid all expectations.

Indeed, Blind Melon band has the raw energy that too few bands have, these days. It effectively shook off corporate bullshit, MTV-driven popularity with class. Its reaction to the unlikely hit No Rain? It just didn't care. The group were there to play, and it was there for a good time. More importantly, Hoon was there to speak for a generation that has been tortured by the fucked up world built by the Baby Boomers. Unfortunately, in embracing the pain and suffering of everyone, he took it all too much to heart. A man of excess, it did him in many years before his time.

Galaxie, the single from Blind Melon's newest album Soup rocked as Hoon bounded across the stage, accentuating the beats by clapping his hands in wild abandon. This tune borrows heavily from Yes, as do many of the songs on the outing. The lyrics from 2 x 4 ring all too honest and true in posthumous hindsight as Hoon led the crowd hrough the song's heroin-induced atmosphere. Vernie was a psychedelic, heavy metal excursion; Skinned was a twisted serial killer, pro-vegetarian delight; and Time was a journey of exploration of the self. Each verse of Toes across the Floor built to a frantic, yet dreamy pitch, similar to those created by Yes's Steve Howe and Chris Squire. Yet the chorus, was a magical flip of the switch into the world of Jethro Tull. Hoon and company, pulled this off without a hitch, and added its own intensity and musical prowess.

Hoon tossed out a little bit of the Velvet Underground's After Hours before the audience got to him. Shannon also announced the birth of his first child and seemed to have found some joy at last. But the joy quickly evaporated as Hoon delved deeper into his songbook searching for a resting spot for his troubled soul. To quote Hoon, And I can't understand why something good's got to die before we miss it.

A final note, just like no one should really be surprised by Garcia's death, the same can be said for Hoon. His songs were riddled with the disillusionment of life. On Soup, the pairing of St. Andrew's Fall and New Life are almost too prophetic. The former builds to a feverish pitch as Hoon jumps from his 20-story building, echoing The Beatles' A Day in the Life. In New Life, Hoon questions his approaching fatherhood, while begging for something to give him a breath of fresh air to continue. He blew his mind out in a car. Nobody noticed that the light had changed.

Blind Melon is available from Barnes & Noble.
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Copyright 1995 The Music Box