It’s difficult to get my head around the fact that the debut album by Candlebox came out over 25 years ago. I can still remember being in the living room at my parent’s house watching 120 Minutes when the “Far Behind” video started getting a lot of airplay. I loved the song and it became one of the first pieces of music I bought with my own money. I wasn’t really into grunge that much. Nirvana was huge, of course, and I listened to Stone Temple Pilots and Soundgarden like everyone else. For some reason those bands and a few others (Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, etc.) have a certain prestige about them while Candlebox has been treated as less important.
Fortunately, those of us who fell in love with the alternative rock anthems from that debut album have stuck with the band, and they continue to play to packed houses like last night’s show in Chicago. I finally saw them for the first time last year at Summerfest in Milwaukee and I was shocked how huge their crowd was. It was honestly the biggest group of people I’ve seen for a mid-afternoon set. It really warmed my heart to see hear that many hands clapping for these guys.
Last night was no different. From the opening chords of “Don’t You,” Kevin Martin and the rest of the band commanded all attention. The crowd was all-too-eager to go along for the ride. Opening the set with four songs from their first album brought everyone back to 1993 before leading us through the career of Candlebox. I was a little surprised that most people knew the songs from 2016’s Disappearing In Airports. I was also a bit taken aback at how hard some of those songs rock when they play them live.
For all the great music that came after, there’s really nothing that can beat that first album. So, to close out the set the band returned to the songs that have become their legacy. There may not be a better way to end a rock show than with “You,” “Far Behind,” and “Rain.” Martin told stories throughout the night, and commented on the current state of the world with a hopeful humor and surprising softness. The story behind “Far Behind” is a really beautiful one, and if you don’t know it I suggest you google it. I certainly didn’t know it 25 years ago when I was listening and it changes the way the song hits you.
25 years in, these guys are still loving what they do and the songs feel like they haven’t aged at all. I think you could pair Kevin Martin with Jamie Lee Curtis as two performers who can scream today as well as they could when their careers started. It’s a truly majestic wail that Martin produces, and it is the lifeblood of Candlebox.