Music & Nightlife

Count on a good show, not just the hits

Counting Crows headlines Monday, Aug. 10 at NC Music Factory’s Uptown Amphitheater with performances by Citizen Cope and Hollis Brown.
Counting Crows headlines Monday, Aug. 10 at NC Music Factory’s Uptown Amphitheater with performances by Citizen Cope and Hollis Brown. Courtesy of PMK•BNC.

With Counting Crows headlining Monday night at the NC Music Factory’s Uptown Amphitheater, it will be no rookie show.

Counting Crows has been around for 24 years, which is like a century in band years. Four of seven members – including frontman Adam Duritz – have stuck around for over two decades, and several crew members have been touring with the band since 1994.

Here are five things we learned chatting with Duritz about the upcoming show, collaboration and the secret to keeping a group alive longer than five minutes.

▪ It’s not a given that concertgoers will hear hits like “Mr. Jones” and “Round Here.” Counting Crows has seven records and more than 80 songs to choose from for their set list, which changes every night. Around dinnertime, Duritz sits down with guitar player David Immerglück (“Immy”) to write the night’s final set list. He usually draws from all seven records and suggestions from the band, crew and opening acts – but nothing is guaranteed.

“The best way to put on a great show is to be playing songs that you really want to play,” Duritz said. “One of the reasons I think we’re not sick of any of our songs is that if we don’t feel like playing it, we don’t play it. It’s just like, that’s the law.... So if I don’t want to play ‘Mr. Jones’ one night, I just don’t play ‘Mr. Jones.’ That way, I still like playing ‘Mr. Jones.’”

One song almost always makes the cut, though: “There’s something really timeless about ‘A Long December.’ No one ever seems to get tired of it.”

▪ Duritz is a big fan of his openers, Citizen Cope and Hollis Brown. How do you choose an opener? “Find a band you love,” Duritz said. “I’d never gotten the chance to see (Citizen Cope) live.... When you’re in a band, you tour so much you don’t go to a lot of concerts because you’re not home,” which is why Duritz teamed up with Ryan Spaulding to create Outlaw Roadshow – a music event that showcases independent bands. Hollis Brown performed in the 2014 Outlaw Roadshow in New York City.

▪ You won’t hear Duritz on a non-Counting Crows record unless it’s his friend’s. “I never really think about it as a business thing,” he said of collaborating with other bands. “I like playing in my band and I’m totally satisfied with that, but I do love singing on friends’ records.”

Take “6th Avenue Heartache,” The Wallflowers’ 1996 hit featuring Duritz: “I was home one night and Jake (Jakob Dylan) called me and said, ‘We have a song; it’s not quite working. Can you come down and sing on it?’ and I knew Jake really well so I said, ‘Sure.’ I just drove down the hill to the studio and sang “6th Avenue Heartache” and drove back home. It was just because we were all friends.”

▪ If you’ve seen “Shrek 2,” “Cruel Intentions” or “Clueless,” you’ve heard a Counting Crows song. “I love movies and I like my work being part of it,” Duritz said, “I just hate the movie business.” Having your song in a movie rarely turns out the way you want it to, he said, but he loves the way “Accidentally in Love” works in “Shrek 2.”

“I was enthusiastic about (‘Shrek 2’),” he said. “Those movies are timeless. Very few things in our culture are as immortal as a really good kids’ movie. My grandmother saw ‘Snow White’ and my mother saw ‘Snow White,’ I saw ‘Snow White,’ and if I have kids they’ll see it too. That stuff lasts forever. It’s really wild that way.”

▪ Duritz knows Counting Crows’ long lifespan is due to the band’s commitment to music and each other. “Music is a thing a lot of people do as a hobby,” Duritz said. “There’s something very different about doing it with your life. It’s less fun than ‘fun’ but also more satisfying than just ‘fun.’ There’s a point in your career ... where it’s just not fun – it’s hard.”

Duritz said commitment has enabled Counting Crows to survive almost a quarter of a century: “It’s really easy to do the math and figure out why you should get more … more money, more fame, more whatever. But it occurred to me early on, it doesn’t matter what you deserve. If there’s not enough for everybody else, you’re not going to have a band very long.... We made the band the most important thing from the very beginning.”

Counting Crows

WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday.

WHERE: Uptown Amphitheater at NC Music Factory, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.

TICKETS: $49.50-$69.50.

DETAILS: 704-916-8970; www.ncmusicfactory.com.

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