at Franklin & Marshall College,
Lancaster, PA
(6 December 1994)

The Live show at Franklin & Marshall College Monday was probably loud enough to be heard in the band's hometown. But the foursome has come a long way from York, Pa., rocketing up the Billboard music charts and selling out shows across the country during a recent national tour.

Still, Live -- which cut its musical teeth at The Chameleon Club in Lancaster, Pa. -- was welcomed at Lancaster's F&M like a band of returning heroes.

The crowd roared its enthusiasm when Live finally took the stage after two opening acts. The young band, which ripped free of its York County roots with reckless abandon, started their 75-minute set with "Selling the Drama," the first single from its current hit album, Throwing Copper.

Band frontman Ed Kowalczyk energized the crowd with his versatile vocal style. Sometimes mellow, sometimes harsh, always passionate, his voice ran like a silver thread through a patchwork of tightly seamed rock.

Kowalczyk prowled the stage restlessly during some songs, but most found him center stage, leaning into the microphone with barely restrained force and screaming his energy over a crowd ready and eager to absorb it. His powerful vocals rolled through and enveloped the audience with just enough of a raspy edge to project over the pounding sound of two, sometimes three guitars, a bass and percussion.

A blend of smooth and raw, the band's sound is growing in familiarity and popularity as it shoots up the music charts. Kowalczyk made a few references between songs to the group's York upbringing, which inspired the lyrics to several songs. Some were not well received by York residents, he explained with a fiendish grin.

The hard-edged, guitar-oriented rock had fans moshing and body surfing throughout the show. The crowd -- more than 2,000 people of largely high school and college age -- never tired of screaming its pleasure.

The high-volume performance was loud enough that some fans were content to sit outside on the gymnasium steps and enjoy the show from there. But the audience close to the stage was bouncing and slamming enough to literally rock F&M's Mayser Gym, which was shaking somewhere high on the Richter scale.

"The ceiling is officially swaying," Kowalczyk announced before launching into "In Heaven."

The band was screamed back to the stage by their demanding fans for a power-packed encore to close the show.

The evening opened with Portion, a last-minute fill-in for postponed opener Angry Salad.

Portion, a high volume, guitar-oriented rock band with REM-like aspirations, started the evening off in the proper spirit. Within moments of the first chord, bodies of enthusiastic fans were being passed across the top of an eager crowd.

After a 20-minute set and a 20-minute break, the second band, Jason and Alison, provided another half-hour prelude.

The duo's performance was distinguished mostly by the energetic bow-and-pluck style of Alison, whose cello was an unusual counterstroke to Jason's guitar and vocals. The cello, played in upright and guitar positions, provided both harmony and bass lines for the set.

[ by Tom Knapp ]