Soul Asylum Concert Review with Local H
August 20, 2021
The Castle Theatre
Soul Asylum was formed in 1981 and the band is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They are best known for their Grammy award winning song “Runaway Train”. The song was released on their album Grave Dancers Union which has been certified triple-platinum. Back in 1992, MTV was a cable channel and they played music videos on it. They also did interviews and special acoustic recordings. The video for “Runaway Train” featured photos of runaway or missing youth and asked them or anyone who had seen them to call a special number. Back then, the only phones were corded and you had to pay to make long-distance calls (calls outside of your town). There were also payphones where you could pay to call someone. And you paid by the minute to talk. I digress. “Runaway Train” was both haunting and helped some missing children be returned home.
The Castle Theatre is a small, live venue in the mid-size community of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois with a combined population of around 100,000. Just prior to this show, the venue instituted a Covid policy that patrons must be vaccinated or negative tested prior to show. Most patrons are happy to comply so that we can all get back to live shows.
The original billing included Juliana Hatfield, formerly of The Lemonheads band and The Juliana Hatfield Three that were very popular in the early 1990s. Juliana Hatfield had to bow out from tour due to unforseen circumstances.
Local H, an alternative band from Zion, Illinois. They are best known for their angsty song “Bound for The Floor” aka “The Copacetic Song”. The song is still heard today on the radio everywhere and it is such an earworm, you are singing along before you know it. Local H has been at The Castle Theatre before. I interviewed them in 2014 and you can check out the old interview here: Local H Interview
Local H started the night. The duo consists of vocalist/guitarist Scott Lucas and drummer Ryan Harding. They both come out on stage and Scott says pretty softly into the microphone, “We’re Local H” then starts playing. The energy level was listless. The sound of the guitar was a little shallow. And I thought to myself, ‘Oh no! They’re washed up. Maybe they’ve gotten too old.’ The crowd was muted in their reaction too. Then, they played “Bound For The Floor” and the floodgates opened. The sound was better, Scott Lucas was interacting with the crowd and changed into a fireball of energy. It was like a different show after that. Scott even gave us feedback while playing. I have not seen that in a live show for decades.
The main event was Soul Asylum. Soul Asylum currently consists of vocalist Dave Pirner, guitarist Ryan Smith, touring bassist Jeremy Tappero and legendary drummer Michael Bland. Michael Bland is best known as the original drummer for Prince. He has been with Soul Asylum since 2004 and he has also worked with Nick Jonas & the Administration.
You may be waxing nostalgic and looking to see Soul Asylum to break out your Doc Martens and favorite flannel shirt. As long as you wash your flannel regularly, that is perfectly cool. (Because in the old days, grunge artists were pretty grungy and so were the fans.) The band took the stage in unassuming dress and not much branding other than Soul Asylum on the drum kit. No one needs to worry about Soul Asylum being washed up. They sound as good as twenty-nine years ago if not better because of better equipment. The band performed hits like “Somebody to Shove” “Black Gold” and then went right into “Runaway Train”. Soul Asylum also gave us some feedback during the show. They also performed newer songs of “Got It Pretty Good” and “Hopped Up Feelin'”. There was no lack of music from their lengthy catalog.
Soul Asylum released their album Hurry Up and Wait April 17, 2020 and really only recently started touring in support of the album. The album is a great rock album that contains poignant lyrics and strong guitars. The sound is a mix between folk, classic rock and even some grungier sounds. Like the band and their fans, their music has grown up and is more mature. For more on their tour, check out soulasylum.com