February 12, 2016 Candlebox Break It Down Acoustically City Winery, NYC 2-4-16
During the rise of the Grunge Rock movement out of Seattle Washington, a band with something different emerged. That band came when Candlebox hit the scene with their Bluesy and classic Hard Rock sound. While some have considered them as Post-Grunge, labels or not, Candlebox is Rock-n-Roll. Beginning their journey in the dawn of the ’90s, they landed a deal with Madonna’s Maverick records. One of the first acts signed under Maverick Records, they released their successful 1993 debut album, Candlebox, and the rest was history. The album went four times platinum since and is considered a cornerstone of Rock in the decade. Now over two decades later, minus a hiatus period in the early 2000s, Candlebox remain a strong unit.
While lineup changes happen, Candlebox now consists of original vocalist Kevin Martin, long-time drummer Dave Krusen, Bassist Adam Kury, along with newly added Guitarists Mike Leslie and Brian Quinn. Set to release their sixth overall studio album in April 2016, entitled Disappearing in Airports, via new label partnership Pavement Music, Candlebox is primed and ready to go. In fact, Candlebox has toured consistently over the years and most recently partaken in a special run of acoustic based performances. Speaking of which, on Thursday, February 4th, Martin and Quinn made an appearance at the City Winery for a special acoustic show with The Infinite Staircase as direct support. A show which sold out relatively quickly, excitement was high as fans shuffled into the quaint venue.
As the crowd took to their seats, ready to open up a few wine bottles and order dinner, the lights dimmed and The Infinite Staircase was announced. Formed in the early 2000s by brother’s Lenny and Jeff Cerzosie from New York and New Jersey, they have self-released a full-length album, The Road Less Taken (2009), and an EP, No Amends (2013). Independently managing themselves from the get-go, they have toured nationally with Black Label Society, Sevendust, and Dope back in 2009 on the Black Label Bash Tour, as well as shared the stage with bands such as Alter Bridge, Otep, W.A.S.P, and of course, Candlebox. It was 2013’s single of “The Pride” from No Amends that brought them to the top 40 in mainstream charts. This track was a collaboration with Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society), Morgan Rose (Sevendust), JD DeServio (Black Label Society), and Candlebox’s Martin. This powerful piece was written about the aftermath from 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, and the profits went out to the victims who have lost their homes.
The Cerzosie brothers went on the stage and took a moment to look at the wine selection they had in front of them. They mentioned a new red wine in the house which was called the Candlebox as fans raised their own glasses to salute to the band. The Infinite Staircase added a relaxing and intimate setting with their Bluesy sound that echoed across the floor. As the set moved along smoothly, it was time for a surprise guest of honor to walk onto the stage. Living Colour’s Corey Glover joined the group to do a memorable impromptu tribute to the late David Bowie. Moving into a piece from Labyrinth with “As the World Falls Down,” followed by “The Man Who Sold The World,” everyone was at attention as the room took a moment to remember the recently departed icon. The set closed with their hit of the aforementioned “Pride” and received positive feedback from the crowd.
After a short break, as many continued to eat their dinner, it was time for Candlebox to take the stage. One thing has been consistent with the group, Martin has written powerful songs based off of his personal life. On this evening, fans were lucky to hear Martin open up to the crowd to share the history behind the music as he explained in detail what each song meant for the night’s set. Martin casually engaged with the crowd as he introduced Quinn, who was there with him on the guitar that night. Moving into the first song, Martin admitted that he has always been a Guns N’ Roses fan where the next piece off of 2012’s Love Stories & Other Musings was written based off of the influence the band had on him as he went into “Sweet Summertime.” Having no censorship, Martin spoke up with pure honesty, introducing the next piece written about how drugs in the early nineties spun out of control as they moved into “Drowned” from 1995’s Lucy.
Martin moved into a religious discussion, where he kindly admitted that he had no judgement with what or who people believe in as long as it does no harm to others. He wrote the next piece based off of organized religion as they moved into “Cover Me” from 1993’s Candlebox. Continuing with material from the debut album, Martin discussed the powerful message behind “Change,” stating his inspiration to this piece, “Regardless of how long I am going to be here on the planet, one day I am not going to be here.”
With a set that had a consistent theme, Martin changed things up as he asked the crowd if they were having a good time. He wanted to know what everyone was drinking as he joked by saying, “I could drink a bottle of Candlebox wine.” He asked about the ladies in the room, as he noticed that over the years he was lucky to have a good split of fans between men and women. This brought him to share an interesting story when the band was touring with Rush in the nineties, where they performed at Madison Square Garden in NYC. It was a dream come true for them and Maverick records at the time was extremely proud as well. On this particular tour, the band noticed that Rush barely had any women in the audience as he dedicated the next track, “Blossom,” to the women in the house that night.
Martin continued to joke as he said, “Make sure you tip your bartenders well. This is NYC, remember, it costs $5,000 to park your car.” After his joke, he turned the mood around to a more serious note as he asked if there were any Vets in the audience. He moved into a personal story about his father, who was a WWII Vet, where he enlisted at the age of nineteen. He expressed how, at one time, there were thirty-two people in his father’s boat, where only two survived and he was one of them. He moved forward with the story, sharing how his father met his mom at a Jazz club after his war years were left hidden behind him. It was after Martin saw the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan, he wanted to know his father’s experience. He called his father one day and brought him to dig from his past. His father dug up a lot of emotions where every year he would call Martin to share his stories and emotions from what happened during the war. Martin warmed up to the crowd, expressing that his father died eleven years ago and he wrote a song because, “Musicians do not know how to say I miss you, so they write a song to say it instead.” This song was written to say thank you for the service for the dearly departed as he went into “Miss You” from 2008’s Into the Sun.
The next piece, “Breathe Me In,” from Into the Sun, Martin mentioned how it was written about how he met his Australian wife, Natalie. He explained how he met her at a bar fourteen years ago and had a crazy love affair with her, where he even chased her in Paris. Shortly after this performance, Martin introduced his friend Brian to the crowd, a spotlight lit him as he proposed to his girlfriend Kelly in front of the sold out audience. Continuing with a family theme, Martin dedicated the next piece to Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson directed the 2006 film Apocalypto where there was a powerful scene involving a pregnant woman and, at this time, his wife was pregnant. Martin thought if anything happened to his wife or child, and if there was nothing he could do about it, that he would be extremely devastated. He wanted to write a song about this particular emotion as he moved into the song “Lover Come Back to Me” from Into the Sun.
As romance was flourishing in the air, Martin changed the tune a bit where he found out a woman that he dated was a Scientologist and how he could not get past the whole alien thing, which the song “Sometimes” from 1998’s Happy Pills was based from. As the set was winding down, Martin knew it was time for the ultimate classics as they went into “You.” The room echoed from the audience singing along. Shortly after this tune, a fan casually walked onto the stage and took a selfie with Martin.
Just when there were two songs left for the night, Martin explained how much he loved New York City. Shortly after, he described the next piece, which many compare to a love ballad. He expressed how it was written for an old friend of his in Seattle who died when Martin was only twenty-one, called “Far Behind.” Finally, the closing track came from a new tune that will soon be released in April. Martin shocked the entire crowd as he emphasized the meaning of the next piece being about three of his friends who have had terminal cancer. He wrote the song “Alive At Last,” expressing the moment when they let go and no longer have to suffer anymore, “Where they go to heaven or outer space.” When this song ended, Candlebox received a standing ovation.
All in all, this otherwise ordinary Thursday evening turned into an incredible experience for Candlebox fans to witness and learn the history of the band. It was an intimate experience, where Martin remained humble and down to earth for fans that have been there from the very beginning. There will be a lot more from Candlebox, including one more final show in February on the 2oth, a trip to South America in March, and a spot at Carolina Rebellion on May 6th. Keep a look out for more dates, and in the meantime, pre-order a copy of Disappearing in Airports today.