FESTIVAL REVIEW: The 5th annual Shadow Ridge Music Festival

Featuring Barenaked Ladies, Collective Soul, Toad the Wet Spocket and The Samples

Barenaked Ladies at Shadow Ridge Festival in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, September 8, 2023. (Photo credit: Dean Birkheimer)

DEAN BIRKHEIMER | Go Venue Magazine

With blue skies and temperatures in the mid 70s, a smile formed on my face that stretched from ear to ear.  Finally, an outdoor event that won’t slowly cook me. Although both Maha and Taylor Swift were amazing events to cover, the 95 to 100 degree heat for my 62-year-old, 30lb overweight body was weakening. Another reason for the glee? The line-up. Barenaked Ladies, Collective Soul, Toad the Wet Spocket and The Samples. This promised to be a happy hand clapping dancerama.

Big thank you to EVERYONE involved with the festival. Once again, it was beautifully and meticulously organized. The entire staff was professional and accommodating and were always there with a welcoming smile.

Showing their teeth first were The Samples. A simply wonderful jangly sounding band. The origin of the band began about 35 years ago. They’ve had some well documented hardships along the way but have always gotten up off the canvas. I particularly love “Feel Us Shaking”. For me, it takes you on a lyrical journey. “Pleasures be waiting by the sea. With a smile for all the world to see.”  The more they played, the more the crowd moved up front and danced. Thanks to The Samples, the tone for the evening was now set.

Toad the Wet Sprocket was next. Unfortunately, as hard as I tried, I could not find Rex Stardust and his electric triangle anywhere. I suppose he is still recovering from his surgery to have his elbow removed.  Oh well, time to grin and bear it and move on.  Soon as they hit the stage, I kept thinking that All I Want to hear is “All I Want”.  I was not disappointed.  Then I heard “Fall Down”, and I thought, maybe All I Want is to hear is “Fall Down”, but no, it was “All I Want” that I wanted to hear.  I then realized, All I Want is to be given everything they have, and I got it.  Toad did indeed hit us all with everything they had.  They were spectacular and simply put…fun.

In the song “Where the River Flows”, Collective Soul tells us that “Silence is Beauty”. Sorry, guys, I beg to differ. Hearing Collective Soul perform is real beauty. From “Shine” to “December”, everything they do is stunning. They are as tight a band as you will find. When you see Collective Soul live, you are witnessing a true concert experience full of riffs and melodies. Their energy has no end, and the enthusiasm they brought out from the crowd was pure and genuine. It’s no wonder they have been around for over 3 decades. Every year they add to their ever-growing number of fans. If you’ve never seen them, please find a way, and I promise that you’ll come away with an upside-down frown.

Closing out this stellar festival was Barenaked Ladies. If I had a million dollars and could book my own show, I would be sure to book BNL. I love what this band does. They play music.  Really well-done orchestrated music.  Exquisite tones and harmonies. They honestly want the crowd to get their money’s worth. They come across easy going and laid back.  They do it while having fun and making sure we are as well.  They are a little sly and slick and if you watch closely, they will share a bit of a Cheshire cat grin with each other.  They make you dance.  They bring you joy, and they leave you fulfilled but, at the same time, wanting. Speaking of wanting…you’ll be wanting to check out and purchase their 18th studio album, In Flight, which is scheduled to be released September 15th.

Shadow Ridge golf course was the place to be on Friday, September 8th! It was a party packed with laughs, dancing, and talented musicians. Barenaked Ladies, Collective Soul, Toad the Wet Sprocket and The Samples were phenomenal.

One last thing. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.

Barenaked Ladies

Collective Soul

Toad the Wet Sprocket

The Samples

All images © Dean Birkheimer

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