Candlebox revisit signature record to adoring fans at El Rey

Candlebox

Grunge (n):
1.Grime or dirt.
2. A style of rock music characterized by a raucous guitar sound and lazy vocal delivery.

Last week, 90’s rock band Candlebox paid a visit to the El Rey Theatre in Miracle Mile, and at this show I found both definitions appropriate.  Candlebox, who are currently on tour celebrating the 25-year anniversary of their 1993 self-titled album, are the epitome of the grunge hype that exploded in the early 90’s.  They’re from Seattle, they dress and look the part, and their sound fits perfectly right into the genre. 

Cool, cool.  That’s what I came for.  The nostalgic sounds that I jammed out to during the My So Called Life era of my youth.  Aw, the memories this type of music brings back to me — middle school parties, flannels (all day everyday), hanging with the skater kids, hacky sack-ing- you know, all the fun us 90’s kids indulged in!  Yes, these type of shows always transport me back in time and well, that’s always fun!  Right? But you know what isn’t so fun?  Smelly people.  Grimy, dirty music- great!  Grimy, dirty humans- not so much!  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this about Candlebox themselves, I’m sure they bathe on the reg…but let’s just say some of their fans could’ve used a shower or ten.  Seriously, dudes — is it that hard to put on some deodorant, spritz your self with some cologne, something?!!  There was a moment where I walked upstairs to get away from some bad fumes on the floor, only to walk into an even worse stink bomb.  Come on! 

All smells aside, Candlebox put on a killer show and I was eventually able to find a better spot to enjoy from. 

The crowd was ecstatic to hear the band breathe life into their iconic first album.  The band dove right into the set opening up with the first song off the album “Don’t You.”  Immediately after the first song finished, lead singer Kevin Martin called out an unruly fan in the audience who was apparently starting a fight and asked security to remove him.  “We’re too old for that kind of shit,” he said,  The crowd cheered.

The rest of the night was filled with all the bangers from their debut album mixed with a few songs from the rest of their discography.  During the song “Sweet Summertime” they segued into a cover of Duran Duran’s “Hungry like the Wolf” which was an interesting choice but enjoyable as the crowd sang along to the popular 80’s tune.  Throughout the set, Martin stalked around the stage, singing, screaming and energetically connecting with fans by the way of fist bumps and high fives.  The rest of the band (Brian Quinn and Island Styles on guitars, Dave Krusen on drums and Adam Kury on bass) rocked out ferociously for the entire 90-minute set.  The newer song “She Comes Over Me” was received well by the fans but it was undoubtedly the familiar tunes that had the biggest response.  “Blossom” and “You” really got the crowd going, but of course it was “Far Behind” that elicited the most excitement of the night.  That was the one song that really sold me on the band back in the day, and as far as I’m concerned it is one of the best songs from that decade.  It sounded as epic as ever, especially with the help of the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. 

Lead singer Martin wore a shirt that poked fun on himself that read ‘Has Been’ but on this night, he proved his band’s significance in the defining music scene.  Has been or not, doesn’t the saying go…“It’s better to burn out, than to fade away.”  (Truth, Mr. Neil Young, truth!)  Luckily for Candlebox, their flame is still flickering, 25 years on.   

Opening the night was local bands State to State and Aeges,  both whom have been featured regularly on KROQ’s Locals Only and are both sure to blow up in due time.      

Words and photos by Betsy Martinez