Glen Phillips: Not Just That Guy From Toad

Ashleigh Hill, DC Scene Contributor

The quiet creativity and wit of folk opener Craig Cardiff led in perfectly to Jammin Java’s March 3 Glen Phillips appearance. A clean-cut Phillips loosely ambled on stage beginning with strident clapping and a very fine version of “Easier,” a genuine petition of a love song.

“I just want us to all be honest with each other,” concluded Phillips, who really looked like he’s been hanging out backstage doing math for a few hours. So he was, honest that is. The body of Phillip’s guitar is bigger than his very own chest, but seeing the man play live leaves no room to question who’s really in charge. Forgetting his lyrics, Phillips scratches his head and laughs like a father laying an uncompleted crib out all over the floor, and the crowd giggles with him because it’s funny and no one cares if Glen Phillips forgets the words he wrote because, blunting speaking, he’s just extraordinary. For the most part there’s no real distraction other than the bustling bartenders and the tapping of heels.

It’s hard to say whether most of the audience was there to see Glen Phillips perform or to see the lead singer of Toad the Wet Sprocket do a few past hits. The room, thick with audience background vocals on “Something’s Always Wrong” and “All I Want,” listened to all the songs like fairly attentive seminary students.

Always with a fair balance of love and depression, Glen Phillips never lets a crowd down and there’s a definite contrast between seeing him live and popping in one of his CDs. The difference, of course, being his utter presence and legitimate sincerity centered in the middle of the stage.
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