Show Review: Cody ChesnuTT at Yoshi’s – SF, 7/12/12

by Dakin Hardwick on July 19, 2012

I find it hard to believe that 2002 was 10 years ago. This was the last time that we heard from Cody ChesnuTT. He released a brilliant record called The Headphone Masterpiece. It was a two CD set, recorded at home, and was one of the most refreshing R&B records of it’s time. He managed to balance out the fine line between neo soul and indie rock in a truly inventive way. Both The Roots and Miranda July sang his praises, but it didn’t seem to be enough, and nearly as soon as he burst onto the scene, he was gone. I genuinely thought that this was going to be his sole artistic contribution to the world. Then, as I often do, I found myself scrolling through the listings of local venues, and found ChesnuTT playing a show. Of course, that meant that I was going to the show.

ChesnuTT’s four piece band came out to warm up the crowd for a few moments. It was simple & stripped down: drums, bass, guitar, and keys. The band locked into a steady groove, and, in true R&B style, ChesnuTT popped out from backstage, and the band ripped right into the Stax flavored shuffle of “Til I Meet Thee.” It took a lot of guts to open with a song of a record that is still being recorded! But, the band was tight, and ChesnuTT played the song as if it’s been as if it has been a part of his set from the beginning. Actually, he played the song as if it had been a part of the collective pop music consciousness for at least 30 years.

The past decade has hardly slowed down ChesnuTT as a live performer. He was chock full of energy and loved every moment of the performance. His voice still sounds great, and he knows how engage a crowd. For the jazzy, Curtis Mayfield inspired number “What Kind Of Cool Will They Think Of Next,” he managed to get the entire club snapping their fingers in unison to the beat, before letting the song take several different detours before returning to it’s beginning. One could practically call this number the R&B version of Prog Rock.

For the classic R&B romance of the song “Love Is More Than A Wedding Day,” he hosted a brief discussion on marriage with the crowd. He polled the audience to find the longest lasting marriage (37 years for the record), and dedicated the song to them. He played a twofer of political songs from the middle of the club. This man really knows how to write an intelligent and well crafted song about politics and economics. He wandered through the crowd, shaking everyone’s hands, and singing directly to as many audience members as he could.

The show closed up with “Parting Ways,” the song that also closes up the film Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, which was also the only “old” song he played all night. When he returned for an encore, people in the crowd kept shouting out names of songs off Headphone Masterpiece. Amid shouts of requests for “Bitch I’m Broke,” “Serve This Royalty,” and “The Seed,” he confessed to not feeling this songs anymore. He then played a Chuck Berry flavored, classic rock meets jump blues song called “Gunpowder,” complete with ChesnuTT doing his very best Chuck Berry guitar solo.

This tour was to help generate interest in his upcoming album Landing On A Hundred, which is currently being funded by a Kickstarter campaign. I certainly hope that he can get this record up and running so he can cross America on tour again. Because the world really shouldn’t have to go another decade before he comes back.

Setlist:

‘Til I Meet Thee
That’s Still Mama
What Kind of Cool
Everybody’s Brother
Love is More Than  A Wedding Day
Sing Away
Do Better to the Young
Where Is All The Money
Under The Spell of the Handout
Parting Ways
—-
Gunpowder

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