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July 11, 2007

Rocco DeLuca & The Burden; House of Blues, San Diego; 7.8.07

I love a ridiculous amount of bands and have been to more shows than I can keep track of, but it is not often that an artist actually blows me away in their live performance to the extent that Rocco DeLuca and the Burden have. I've seen them anywhere from small clubs (their performance at The Fillmore in San Francisco is one of the best live sets I've witnessed, ever), to community theatres, to record stores and coffee shops, to a crowd of over 17,000 at the Hollywood Bowl. No matter the setting, they do not disappoint; but I do think they excel and musically are best suited for a club, so I was extremely excited to be able to see them at the House of Blues during what is their first headlining tour.

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First, though, let's talk openers. Sara Bareilles opens the show with her single, "Love Song," which is a jazzy pop number with a great hook. Her set includes other gems from her recently released album, Little Voice, such as "Vegas," "Gravity," "Bottle It Up" and "Many the Miles." I have been listening to Sara in heavy rotation for a while now and as good as she sounds recorded, the first thing you notice live is how much more powerful and smooth her voice is. And trust me, this girl can SING. She almost seems destined to be one of the next big things in music.

Next to the stage is The Last Goodnight. They have a light and fun pop rock sound and did a great job at entertaining the audience. Amongst the songs played from their forthcoming album were "One Trust," "Poison Kiss," "Stay Beautiful" and, my favorite of theirs, "Pictures of You." Their music is enjoyable and easily stuck in your head.

Finally, it's time for our headliner. As the curtain opens up and Rocco DeLuca and the Burden become visible to the crowd, cheers erupt along to the opening chords of "Gift," also the lead-in track to their album, I Trust You to Kill Me. The song sets the mood for the rest of the show well, with its perfectly timed progression and build-up, allowing you to really settle in to the vibe of the music.

If you have not heard these guys before, the best I can do to describe their style is to say it is a wonderfully fused combination of rock, blues, jazz and folk. Rocco has a unique, wailing style to his vocals and while I've heard him compared to anyone from Robert Plant to Jeff Buckley, he is really his own star in the making.

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One of the highlights of RDB's live show is always "Swing Low," which Rocco describes as an homage written about the "masters and great American musicians [he] grew up listening to." During the breakdown of the song, Rocco's musicianship shines as he plays a long and impressive dobro solo -- which, in every performance, takes on a new life, so it never gets old or repetitive to witness and hear.

With a set that's full of tracks from their album, as well as a few that are unique to the live iTunes session that they did, the song "Painfully Pretty" stands out as the only one not featured on either. Written overseas during a long train ride, it started as a song Rocco typically performed solo with no instrumentation besides his dobro. However, it's now been given a full band mix and has truly been taken to the next level. The evolution has been absolutely amazing to see; and taking into account that this song possibly shows off Rocco's exquisite vocal range better than any others, it was without a doubt one of my favorites to hear on this tour.

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A crowd favorite, of course, is their single "Colorful" - a staple on VH1's top video countdown and many radio stations nationwide. The up-beat and charming number inspired everyone to dance and sing along, garnering many smiles from all band members as the words came right back to them.

The back-to-back combination of "Draw" and "Soul" was the definite high point for me. The former is my favorite track on the album and I was anxious to finally hear it live. It also features one of my favorite RDB lyrics: "If there's violence in your heart/then we have something in common/whenever we're apart/I want to break." "Soul" is a monster of a song; the first few seconds lull you into complacency, expectating a slower medley, and then BAM! the band kicks in and the energy is incredible. In the midst of the song, another jam breaks out and, in addition to Rocco, you are treated to the unmistakable talents of bassist Dave Beste, drummer Ryan Carmen, percussionist Greg Velasquez and keyboardist/guitarist Brett Bixby.

At the end of the regular set, the band exits the stage to a very enthusiastic crowd. Almost immediately, everyone starts chanting, "Rocco, Rocco!" until he returns for an encore. Before beginning into "How Many Times," performed solo, he takes the time to once again give his thanks for everyone coming out to see them and discuss how much it means to him and the band. His soft-spoken and humble persona makes him impossible not to like, and there is no doubt to his genuine appreciation to have the opportunity to share his gift and have people truly listen.

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The rest of the band returns to close the encore with another crowd favorite in "I Trust You to Kill Me," ensuring that the show ends on a high-energy note. The only disappointment one can muster up is in knowing it is the last song.

This headlining tour, finally allowing Rocco and the Burden to shine with a long set, proves just how much they have grown together since forming. Their sound is tight and flawless, and each member is committed to putting on the best live show possible -- and there is no doubt that they have attained their goal and surpassed it in spades.

As the tour has just begun, I'd highly recommend you check these guys out while you have a chance to see them in a club. It is not a decision you'll regret. Their sound is original and a fresh of breath air to the music scene of today.

Full RDB setlist:
Gift
Dope
Swing Low
How Fast
Painfully Pretty
Colorful
Favor
Speak to Me
Bus Ride
Draw
Soul

encore:
How Many Times
I Trust You to Kill Me

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Comments

Elisa

once again, feel like I was there! awesome!

HoB SD, was that where Ryan played?

Velva

Sounds like an awesome show! The set list is pretty much what it was at the Independent in SF, and I agree that the set just flows. And dang! That band is tight.

Also, Sara Bareilles is going to be huge! Why she named the album "Little Voice" is beyond me.

An awesome review of a very exciting show!

lisa

great review! i'll have to check out those other bands...

Deb

This review is so well written. You make us feel like we were actually there. I love it when reviewers post the set list.

:)

Deb

This review is so well written. You make us feel like we were actually there. I love it when reviewers post the set list.

:)

Deb

This review is so well written. You make us feel like we were actually there. I love it when reviewers post the set list.

:)

Julie

Great review, Taylore! I like that you wrote it in the present tense -- it feels more immediate, fresh, and makes the reader feel like she's actually there.

Jacyln

Wow, House of Blues San Diego, that brings back so many wonderful memories. Great review as always!

Michelle

Great review!

MichelleHw

Wow, you are an excellent journalist!!!! Yes, you really bring the show to the reader. And, yes, I like the set lists, too :)

Michael

We saw Rocco last night at the House Of Blues Chicago and were truly blown away. We have been fans of the album from the moment we first heard it several months ago. We also have been to many different shows over the years but all agreed that this was probably the best show we have ever seen. Rocco is truly a hidden gem and a definite must see!

Shannon

Well, I am sold! I will seriously look into seeing them live the next time I get the chance!

Tagel

I've been a fan of theirs but after reading your review I am tempted to check them out the next time they come through here.

Tagel

Ooops - didn't review my comment. That should read I've never been a fan.....

Heather

I love these guys ... cause of you! :) You really bring their performance alive with this review. Great job once more!!

Amanda

I know you love these guys, so it put a smile on my face reading this because that really comes across in your review. You are such a talented writer!

Steph.

You'll have to send me some songs! This intrigues me. They sound really great live. Rocco's pretty cute too. :)

drew

these guys are slick. i hope they get huge. great job on the review, this is one of your best ones.

Megan

I saw Rocco when he opened for Lifehouse a few years back, I think it was before he got signed. He really made an impression on me and I am happy to see he is doing well now and that you love him! I'll have to check his band out when they come back around.

kellie

ohhhh, rocco deluca! i saw the colorful video on vh1 a while back and loved it. you seriously did a great job with this review, it makes you want to go right out and see them live.

marc

this is one of my favorite reviews from all the reviews on here. your enthusiasm and love for the band comes through while still being professional and that's not a skill many have.

amy

i'll check this guy out...been hearing good things. i agree with the above comments that you make us feel like we are right there with you at the show. amazing!

melody

aww, I remember you telling me about these guys. The pictures and lighting are really cool!

And I completely have a girlcrush on Sara Bareilles, haha. She's awesome.

Lindsay

I saw sara open for Marc Broussard a while back and she is very talented. this sounds like an amazing show! great pictures as well.

tiffany silver

When I was in my late teens a friend of mine, an elite athlete, gave me the most profound yet simple advice that changed the way I would view myself forever. He told me "You yourself have to think you're great because no one else is going to tell you that you are."

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