When The Verve Pipe took the stage at 20 Monroe Live on Friday, singer Channing Lee had already played another gig the same night — at The Intersection for the Jammie Awards. She shared the story of her unusual night with Local Spins. (Photo gallery)
EDITOR’S NOTE: Singer Channing Lee found herself in a unique position Friday, performing not only with her husband, Quinn Mathews, in the indie-folk duo Channing & Quinn as part of WYCE’s mammoth Jammie Awards show at The Intersection, but also as a backing singer in West Michigan alt-rock band The Verve Pipe, which made its debut at 20 Monroe Live, a new Grand Rapids concert hall, and marked the 20th anniversary of its classic “Villains” album. Local Spins asked her to write about her unusual two-gig night.
On Friday night under a full moon, lunar eclipse and a comet, the musicians and music enthusiasts of West Michigan (not to be outdone by this cosmos) put on their own epic show in Grand Rapids.
WYCE’s 18th annual Jammie Awards showcased and recognized the West Michigan artists who released new music in the past year at The Intersection, and The Verve Pipe celebrated 20 years of their hit record “Villains” by playing it in its entirety in a headlining show at the brand new 20 Monroe Live.
Somehow I was lucky enough to find myself performing in both shows, and spent the evening racing back and forth between the new and the nostalgic.
I started the afternoon sound-checking with The Verve Pipe at 20 Monroe Live. Because the venue is only a week old, everything is pristine, from the equipment to the green rooms, making it luxurious and still waiting on that gritty magic that can only come with time.
What a privilege to be among the first few to break it in. After sound check I took the short walk to The Intersection, only interrupted by a gust of wind taking my hat and turning me into a Lucille Ball-like version of myself chasing it through traffic.
A SENSE OF COMMUNITY AND A WHOLE LOT OF LOYAL VERVE PIPE FANS
The doors were just opening for the Jammies when I arrived, and by the time I took the stage with my duo Channing & Quinn at around 6 p.m., there already was an enthusiastic crowd ready for all the music they could get. And they got a lot of it that night.
More than anything, I took away from the event an overwhelming sense of a community coming together to celebrate and support each other and local music. It was shaping up to be a special evening, but it was time for me to hightail it back over to The Verve Pipe show.
When I walked up to 20 Monroe Live, there was a line of people winding around the building waiting for the doors to open, adding to the anticipation. The Verve Pipe fans are a loyal bunch and many have been following the band for the past 20 years, so this “Villains” anniversary celebration also is a celebration of them as well.
Grand Rapids singer-songwriter Chris Andrus and his band opened the show with a beautiful acoustic set followed by Papa Vegas, whose frontman Joel Ferguson is also the bass player in The Verve Pipe (and so he also played two gigs that night). They put on a rocking show.
When it was finally time to take the stage, we looked out at a sea of people filling the floor and balcony and began rocking our way through the “Villains” album.
At one point after a few songs, lead singer Brian Vander Ark stopped and said, “I wasn’t going to talk and we were going to just play through like you’re hearing the album, but looking out here, you’re all just so beautiful!”
I think it’s safe to say the the feeling was mutual. The packed house sang along to “The Freshmen” and were transported back in time, in the way that only a favorite song can carry you. It was everything that a hometown show should be.
I walked away from the night feeling like I’d gotten to experience the best of both worlds: the excitement and vibrancy of new fresh music at the Jammies, and the satisfaction of performing an album that has stood the test of time and still comes out on top. – Channing Lee
PHOTO GALLERY: The Verve Pipe, Papa Vegas, Chris Andrus at 20 Monroe Live
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Copyright 2017, Spins on Music LLC