The Pick Up the Phone Tour, which came to House of Blues last night, started with a snore.
Openers Hurricane Bells and Stars of Track and Field's sets were the aural equivalent of taking massive amounts of Ambien. Their respective sets managed to put the audience in a catatonic mood, disabling most fans' ability to applaud or generate much enthusiasm for the bands' love songs and lullabies.
But all that changed once headliners Blue October took the stage. At the start of set opener "She’s My Ride," frontman Justin Furstenfeld was pumped, running back and forth onstage and absorbing the energy of the crowd.
Things took a turn after the fourth song, "Dirt Room." Furstenfeld then spent most of the rest of the show leaning down to sing to the audience, shake hands, pass out guitar picks, and pose for pictures. I think his medication was starting kick in.
But he did stand up during all the dramatic power-chord moments, even getting into the spirit of "Jump Rope" by, yep, jumping. But by the end of the show he was completely sitting down.
Still, nobody seemed to mind the overly relaxed Furstenfeld — his fans were just happy that he showed up this time (the tour was originally scheduled for last fall, but a severe anxiety attack grounded the bipolar singer).
At least violinist Ryan Delahoussaye was a mad man throughout the night. He performed a solo at the beginning of the encore that was terrifically sick. He laid his signature pizzicato technique on top of dark chamber music that was as exquisite as it was entertaining.
Besides a few predictable words about the message at the center of this get-help tour, Blue October played a pretty solid set that echoed the strength of their best records. —Kristan Tybuszewski