Hootie and the Blowfish, Toledo Zoo Amphitheater, 8-1-05

Hootie makes sure they end up in Toledo every time they tour the country, and always at the Toledo Zoo Amphitheater. It's a great outdoor venue as far as audio is concerned, even for an older structure. Barring the heat (in the 90s, and staying there for most of the show), everything went smoothly as the band mixed both old and new flawlessly.

It was an odd start, kicking things off with State Your Peace from their new album Looking for Lucky, and the crowd seemed lost. The album was available on CMT's website starting a few weeks back, and it was obvious that news didn't reach the majority. The crowd continued to file in during Time, which brought everyone right back.

They would continue with some of their best, including personal favorite Space, while occasionally slipping in a plug for their new album with Hey Sister Pretty, new single One Love, and absurdly addictive Get Outta my Mind. No one left the place without knowing when that new album would be available or with a doubt as to why it's worth the price.

They stayed with energetic songs throughout the night, rarely slowing down except for I Hope that I Don't Fall in Love With You, a Tom Waits cover the band used for their MTV Unplugged appearance. They went through the entire song, unlike when they skipped a verse on MTV.

Four encores were finally enough to quiet everyone down enough to leave, and even then there were people who wanted more. They covered more songs, from the Who to the Ramones to John Anderson (Keep Your Hands to Yourself). Even though they were drenched with sweat by the end, they didn't seem to lose anything.

However, it was disappointing to see the upper left section of the Amphitheater sparsely filled, though the crowd's energy and enthusiasm more than made up for the small lack of people. By the time the encores hit, the security crew finally lost their battle and let everyone down for the closing moments. That only gave everyone involved a second wind for another 10-15 minutes. Their total stage time was around an hour and half, and barring those few minutes between encores, they never stopped for a break.

It's odd to see a band on stage having just as much fun as the audience. They were everywhere, especially Darius who made sure he acknowledged everyone in the front rows multiple times. It added another layer to an already great show. Those fans who have stuck with them, even after the disappointing Fairweather Johnson, still have plenty to be happy about. Shows like this can only enforce what they already knew: This band hasn't lost any of their talent.

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