Max Collins | The Hotel Cafe (Los Angeles, CA) | June 4, 2014 |
It seems a little odd when an acoustic, “stripped-down” show involves double the amount of players as a rock band but that’s exactly what happened last night when Max Collins closed out the evening at The Hotel Cafe. Not that his solo work is anything like his 3-piece, Eve 6. Quite the contrary. Packed with Max’s gift for words and melodies, his debut album, Honey From the Ice Box, is lighter, a little more country-fied in parts and shows an entirely different side to this singer/songwriter. It was the official release party for the album so those in attendance got to hear the it live, from start to finish.
The first track, “Push It Down,” was the perfect precursor for what was to come. Easy rhythm with an eternally singable refrain that sticks in your head long after you forget what the song is about. The next song, he quipped, was “about Riverside.” It was a cute story detailing his journey finding love and living “in the 909.”
In between songs, Max kept up a stream of banter that got progressively more funny as the evening wore on. During one of his first talks, he made a joke how he started to use the word “sick” to describe something as cool. Sadly, he actually was sick that night so he had to use the correct definition of the word.
“It’s like ‘rad’ from 15 years ago. I still say ‘rad.'”
“Perfect Crime” got the audience involved with synchronized handclaps led by his keyboard player (and backup vocalist). It was a fun romp that referenced one of my favorite Rolling Stones tracks in the first line, “Hey you / Don’t get off of my cloud.” It segued seamlessly into a tongue-in-cheek ditty about “human female breasts” called “Hi Beams.”
Then came a crack about how cough medicine makes him too hot. He threatened to take his blazer off but it would be “too embarrassing.” Judging from the reaction, the audience would not have minded. Though the song title doesn’t say much, “Whoa Whoa Whoa” is lyrically fascinating, showing off Max’s storytelling. Driven by power chords, it had all the makings of an Eve 6 song, sugared and stripped down for easy consumption. The most poignant story was the one about his inspirational grandmother. “This was a woman who’d sneak bottles into her bra – and that was last week!” He dedicated the last song to her, closing out with “Laura Has No Sympathy.”
The show went by quickly. It seemed like it had barely begun by the time it ended. The album itself clocks in at just over 30 minutes. It’s always interesting to hear how different an individual band member’s voice can be when placed on his or her own. It’s even better when we get the benefit of both without sacrificing one. Eve 6 continues to tour the country through July. With any luck, Max can follow that with a solo round of his own.