Hooties “2024 Summer Camp With Trucks Tour.”

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5 30 2024 Hootie n Blow Fish WIll and WIlmar

Written by: Wilmar Mejia

The more things change, the more they stay the same, but better.  That was the overall feeling the audience seemed to have with them as Hootie And The Blowfish rocked out, and lead sing-alongs of their extensive hit-filled repertoire, to a sellout crowd at Dallas Dos Equis Pavilion on May 30.  This was the evening to kick off their four month long 2024 Summer Camp With Trucks tour.

The tour, which takes its name from a phrase tour opener, fellow South Carolina native and long time Hootie friend Edwin McCain once told them (“touring with Hootie is like Summer Camp but with big trucks”) also includes Collective Soul as the special guest playing a full one hour set that includes material from their recently released 12th album, and celebrating their own 30th anniversary since their debut album became a hit in 1994.

5 30 2024 Edwin McCain WIll and Wilmar
Edwin McCain

Another album that was released in 1994, was Hootie’s own Cracked Rear View.  Thirty years later, you could tell by the enthusiasm in the audience that those songs were not only a deep reminder of life 30 years ago, but cause for joyous celebration 30 years later: today!  Despite a torrential downpour that had many local online forums displaying questions about the show maybe being canceled (the amphitheater has a large outdoor lawn), it seemed obvious that nobody stayed home, as the place was full and the crowd kept themselves dry and energized.

5 30 2024 Collective Soul WIll and Wilmar

After a short set by Edwin McCain, featuring some of his most known hits, Collective Soul took to the stage and in their ten song set played hits and new songs, while still finding time to bring McCain on stage for a scorching rendition of AC/DC’s Dirty Deed Done Dirt Cheap.  If these two acts were by some seen as mere openers, the crowd made it known each of them deserved their billing as special guests.  Special for the notoriety of their hits (it was an Edwin McCain song after all that increased Justin Bieber’s notoriety when he was a pre-teen star on YouTube), the reception the audience gave them, and the connection to the headliner (McCain, as mentioned before is from South Caroline, just like Hootie, and Collective Soul from neighboring Georgia.

5 30 2024 Collective Soul WIll and Wilmar

And when it was time for the headliner to take the stage.  Hootie and the Blowfish is a four piece band, with singer and guitarist Darius Rucker, lead guitarist Mark Bryan, bass player Dean Felber, and Jim Sonefeld on drums, this time joined by Lee Turner on keyboards, mandolin, and accordion, Garry Murray playing banjo, guitars, and fiddle, and Gary Greene on percussion, banjo, and piano to bring much depth and texture to songs that millions of people have listened to many many times.  While their album Cracked Rear View was represented with seven songs, and it represents quite well the success Hootie have had as writers of their own music, they also performed close to ten songs written by others.  Songs by Stone Temple Pilots, Led Zeppelin, R.E.M. were played, as well as one from Darius Rucker, his very first #1 single on country charts Alright from his debut solo album Learn To Live.  Their 23 song setlist proved that for Darius, as well as for the whole band, it is not about brands or labels, but about the sheer quality of the performance of great songs.

5 30 2024 Hootie n Blow Fish WIll and WIlmar

For a bit over two hours, great songs were on display and performed to classy perfection.  With Darius Rucker sporting a Dallas Mavs t-shirt, one could tell the band seeks to connect with their local crowd beyond just the music, as they did with their simple yet effective spoken interludes.  One of the surprises of their set was the debut of a Buffalo Springfield cover, For What It’s Worth, as well as bringing Edwin McCain back on stage, like Collective Soul had done 90 minutes earlier, but this time for McCain’s own Solitude.  While these were already very high points, without a doubt the peak moments were when Hootie ended their main set with Hold My Hand, and then their three song encore with Only Want To Be With You.  By then, we didn’t know if the audience was singing along to their favorite song, or making a promise to their favorite band.  One that with the unabashed joy of their music, makes all reminisce about the great moments of summers 30 years ago, but reminds them that the best day to have fun is today, and nothing like a Hootie And The Blowfish concert to celebrate that fact.

5 30 2024 Hootie n Blow Fish WIll and WIlmar

5 30 2024 Hootie n Blow Fish WIll and WIlmar

5 30 2024 Hootie n Blow Fish WIll and WIlmar