Photo credit: Bobby Carmichael
Many bands change styles over years of writing and recording. Few bands change their entire direction, however. Maroon 5, formerly Kara’s Flowers, is one such band.
Back in 1998, L.A.‘s Kara’s Flowers was an up-and-coming alternative band in the mold of Weezer or Nada Surf that garnered modest radio play and positive reviews. After having a change of heart and leaving Reprise Records, the band started over as Maroon 5. They began writing and performing a fusion of R&B and rock reminiscent of Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, and Jamiroquai.
On their first major tour, Maroon 5 performed on the second stage of the Jeep World Outside Festival, headlined by Sheryl Crow and Train. At the Chicago stop of the tour, Maroon 5 played a flawless 40-minute set that drew significant interest from the passersby at the sports and music festival.
Maroon 5 opened their show with “Through with You”, the funkiest song on their debut CD, Songs About Jane. It was instantly apparent that the band was rehearsed and tight. The rock-style lineup of two guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards didn’t miss a beat, and not one missed vocal note was audible. The stage sound was surprisingly good and the band’s clean and vibrant instrumentation was great for the listeners.
“Not Coming Home” and “This Love” followed. Both were decent songs, but without anything unique. Lead singer Adam Levine kept the crowd’s attention, though, as he encouraged the curious onlookers to squeeze together and closer to the stage. His cocky attitude fit the songs well, and his mirrored sunglasses completed his slick rock-star image.
As the band went into “The Sun”, Levine put down his guitar and took over the rest of the show. “The Sun” was the best song played yet, and the crowd of 50 had increased to about 200.
Maroon 5’s set wrapped up with “Harder to Breathe” and “Sunday Morning”, both of which were great songs and proved that Maroon 5 had chosen the right musical path. Not only does the R&B style best suit Adam Levine’s voice, but Maroon 5 is now a unique band with a shot to excel. And unlike Kara’s Flowers, they aren’t in danger of getting lost in the ocean of pop/rock bands that oversaturate modern rock radio.