Thursday, May 27, 2010

Interview with Jars of Clay

My interview originally appeared in the North County Times. The band performs on Saturday in Del Mar, Calif.

Earlier this month, the lyrics to “Flood,” a top 40 hit single for Jars of Clay in 1996, became an unexpected reality for the Nashville-based pop/rock band and area inhabitants after torrential rainfall caused the Cumberland River to crest.

The natural disaster resulted in at least a billion dollars in damages, much of it falling on the Christian and country music industry nerve center. Now Jars of Clay is assisting flood relief efforts headed by The Grammys’ MusiCares foundation through the digital release of “Flood(ed) – A Benefit” EP (five versions of the song for $1) via the group’s web site. All proceeds go to the charity.

“We wanted to figure out a way to engage our audience – especially those not in Nashville - with a way they could help,” explained guitarist Steve Mason, during a phone interview at the group’s studio/rehearsal space Gray Matters in Music City USA.

While the Jars of Clay complex wasn’t totally saturated by water, “it really could’ve been a lot worse for us. We found structural damage to the building…but we weren’t harmed much.” Fortunately, Mason said, they managed to get most valuables like “vintage guitars, amps and things we can’t replace” to a safer location. “The cleanup is ongoing.”

Still, with “some elderly folks, friends and neighbors dealing with entire floors of their houses destroyed - and those that lost their lives for Pete’s sake - we’re feeling really thankful.”

No stranger to helping people in need, Jars of Clay launched the non-profit Blood: Water Mission organization in 2005, providing those living with HIV/AIDS in Africa with clean water and sanitation. Band members try to travel to the continent on a semi-annual basis to gauge the progress being made.

“It has been extraordinary to experience the work there because it’s so much larger in scope than what we had ever dreamed,” noted Mason. “One of the things we’ve learned is the difficulty in trying to do a good thing. It’s one thing to be compelled and another to put wheels on it.”

Their most recent trip to Kenya “allowed a deeper engagement of the songwriting process and what we’re doing in Jars of Clay. That makes it all the more [worthwhile] …over 800 communities have been impacted by the 1000 Wells project. We’re reaching the end of that goal.”

Jars of Clay returns to Spirit West Coast this weekend, having played twice in the past. One of the largest Christian music festivals in America, SWC features 50 entertainers on eight stages, late night comedy shows, film screenings, speakers, seminars, a skate park, sports center and children’s area.

Among the scheduled acts are Skillet, Tenth Avenue North, The Afters (Friday), Steven Curtis Chapman, Matthew West, Stellar Kart, Family Force 5 (Saturday), Newsboys, Seventh Day Slumber, BarlowGirl, Kutless, Hawk Nelson (Sunday).

Last year, Jars of Clay released “The Long Fall Back to Earth,” a synth and keyboards-heavy album that recalls British alt-pop bands like James and Tears for Fears. The alluring songs (“Two Hands,” “Closer,” “There Might Be a Light”) illustrate how far the platinum selling, multi-Dove and Grammy winning foursome has evolved since unveiling a smash self-titled debut in 1995.

“We’re not saying ‘no’ to anything in terms of what we’re interested in and what moves us. We really have the freedom in our muse to try stuff we haven’t yet.”

Mason believes singer Dan Haseltine “has gotten even better at what he does” lyrically over that period of time. “That gives me hope, because as a guitar player, I always want to be improving as a musician.”

Recent months have seen Jars unveil the first in a seasonal series of EPs (“Live at Gray Matters”), which could be their preferred future format. “The world is whatever we dream it. If people want to maintain an album cycle, they certainly can. The exciting thing now is there’s a choice where artists can put out music as it’s finished.”

Once the group’s studio is back at full capacity, work will continue work on “The Shelter,” a collaborative project due in the fall, featuring vocalists from Dave Crowder Band, Switchfoot, Tenth Avenue North, Burlap to Cashmere and more. Jars serves as a house band of sorts.

“For me, it brings home the idea of embodying things that we sometimes speak and pray abstractly to God. We are God’s manifestation of forgiveness to one another.”

More than anything, Jars of Clay is grateful to have maintained a steady career path and accolades (they just picked up two more Doves in April) this far down the line. “We’re still doing something that we really love…and is generating a conversation that is inviting to those listening to the music for the last 15 years.”

Bonus Q&A with Jars of Clay

Here is more from my interview with Steve Mason. Jars of Clay is expected to do a full scale tour with Brandon Heath this fall.

What are your thoughts on playing Spirit West Coast again? We’re excited to be back. It’s always a pleasure to get back to California - especially that part of California, having done this for a few years now. We always love returning there and it’s always great people and a good gathering of folks. It’s a unique lineup of bands every time we’ve been there.

Do you ever try and catch some of the up-and-coming acts while you’re there?
Absolutely. The last time we were there, we got to see The Myriad. I appreciate any festival that’s willing to stretch and get some new bands on these stages. I think it’s an exciting thing because what we’re finding in our core of the world is folks love new music. One of the changes we’re seeing in the music industry is we’re getting more new music, more often. And that’s really a win for everybody involved.

When the band plays a festival like this, do you lean toward a 'greatest hits' set?
We definitely start with a few songs we know we have to play. That includes our most current record. So we really try to honor the work we’ve been into recently. Then there’s always space for a few songs we want to play because they move us. Being a good steward of what we do, we have to keep ourselves engaged as artists to be motivated.

“The Long Fall Back to Earth” was dominated by a more electronic based sound. Were you satisfied with how it turned out and was received?
Yeah. I think we’re always going to wish for more opportunities to expose people to the record. That just seems to be a natural hunger. We obviously love what we do as a band and are excited about it. The more people we can engage with about the music, about the art, the better. There’s always room for improvement in that area. There are new and better ways every day developing how to get engaged.

2010 marks 15 years since the debut album. Can you believe it’s been that long?
No and yes. It really was [an insane period for the band]. I think we’re finding at this point we have to be conscious of the story that’s brought us to this point in a manner of gratitude. I don’t think we’d be here had we not gone through what we’ve gone through. There are certain things about it that we would’ve loved to have handled differently in the moment. There’s a grade from which we’ve experienced these 15 years that ultimately leads us to gratitude.

Congrats on your recent Dove Awards. What do those industry achievements mean to you?
It’s always a surprise. We’re incredibly grateful for it because it’s our peers, people in the industry taking notice and engaging. We want to feel like what we’re doing is challenging and moving people. They’re by no means a barometer or compass to navigate where we are. I think that has to come internally. But it certainly means something.

The band took a trip to Kenya for the Blood: Water: Mission organization. Can you tell me about it?
That last trip we took really brought home for me the gratitude of those that are working with us, informed the staff, mentored us and those we are working with in Africa. One of the important tenets of Blood:Water is we want to make heroes of Africans in their community. It’s not about us rescuing them from their circumstances altogether. This is a joint effort between Africans and those outside the continent. We as those outside of Africa don’t know the same provision of God that they do are experiencing are own rescue in the rich stories that we have to take with us from these trips.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Music retail exclusives

When an artist signs an exclusive deal to release a CD or DVD with a retail chain, it can be good for fans because the price is usually very cheap. But it can also be bad when the retailer orders too much and can't move the excess stock.

For example: I was in WalMart a couple weeks ago and saw a few dozen copies of The Eagles' double album 'Long Road Out of Eden' marked down to $5. What a steal! If memory serves correct, the original price was around $11 - a real bargain for all that music. They shouldn't be taking up valuable shelf space in the ever-shrinking electronics section though.

Sam's Club, owned by WalMart, also had tons of AC/DC's 'Black Ice' on shelves for $5.

Then I went to Target's music department and a several dozen copies of Pearl Jam's solid 2009 CD 'Backspacer' were crammed into the 'P' section. Only it wasn't marked down. At least WalMart was smarter than its rival in pricing to move.

All of these releases are good (Eagles, AC/DC) to great (Pearl Jam), so if you've been on the fence about buying them, now is the time!

Bonus Q&A with Nada Surf

Pictured is the cover of "If I Had a Hi-Fi." The following are more excerpts from my email back-and-forth with Matthew Caws.

Q: A couple months ago, the band played three of its albums at different NYC shows. Had you done that before? What was the experience like?
A: We’d never done that before. The idea of doing our first three had been bandied about a few years ago, but it was a busy time and honestly it seemed like a lot of work! In the end, it kinda was a lot of work, but we’ve played so many of the songs off the last three records live that the stack of “new” songs wasn’t too daunting.

Q: You sing a song in French on the covers album, which you've done in the past. Does the phrasing come easier for you now or is it second nature since you were raised in Paris? Speaking of that - what ages did you attend school there? Did any French musicians serve as a later inspiration for your work in Nada Surf?
A: Well, the phrasing is second nature in that I don’t have to think about it to just roll the dice and sing in French. But there will be mistakes. My accent is far more convincing than my grammar. So, for actual recording, I have to take a close look at what’s going on in the details and run it by Daniel, who’s a little more native than I am. I lived in Paris for two school years - one when I was five and another when I was 12. Back home, I went to the Lycee Francais de New York from age six to 15. I really love some French artists: Serge Gainsbourg all along, Francoise Hardy all along. I am wild about a few songs in other cases, like Jacques Dutronc and Edith Piaf, and a fan of some current things like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Phoenix. Stereolab have a French singer and I love them. So, same influence as anything else, just in smaller proportion. If anything, Serge Gainsbourg works as an inhibiting influence in that he looms so large and his - pardon the word choice here - finesse, constantly playing with a language that, despite the frenchiness of the expression “double entendre,” can be quite difficult to play with. Clearly I’m making a gross generality here.

Q: One of my favorites is the Depeche Mode track. It really has a Nada Surf vibe now. Was deconstructing that one hard? How about the Moody Blues, with the tempo shifts and orchestration? Have you tried to pull off the latter live yet?
A: The physical act was relatively straightforward, just sitting down with a guitar and letting the song mutate until I could sustain the illusion that I’d written it myself. Convincing myself that it was perfectly ok to do that to the extent that I did was the “hard” part.

The Moody Blues song...we haven’t tackled live yet. One small regret of mine is that I didn’t get around to putting choral harmonies on the slow middle bit. Having a sing along there would have put an interesting spin on the torch song feeling inherent to that part.

Q: Another standout for me is the opening Bill Fox number, "Electrocution." How did you end up getting ex-Guided by Voices guitarist Doug Gillard to play on it?
A: I’ve been a fan of Doug’s playing for ages. We even started a cover of “Pop Zeus,” from ‘Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department’ - an amazing record he did with [GBV singer] Bob Pollard, where he played all the instruments. Doug is a great arranger and a damn fine rhythm section! I went to see him solo at Piano’s once and introduced myself. Such a sweet guy. I ran into him at a Bob Mould show. We had a conversation about [The Pretenders’] James Honeyman-Scott and I can’t remember if he offered first or I asked first, but whatever happened, we had a plan by the end of the night.

Q: Were there any covers you attempted, but just didn’t work as Nada Surf songs? What about extra ones you recorded, but didn’t make the album?
A: Maybe we were conservative in our actual ‘let’s-really-try-this’ choices, because they all kinda sorta worked. Songs in various states of disrepair or unfinishedness or hardly-startedness include “Spark” by the Bird and the Bee, the above-mentioned “Pop Zeus,” the Ramones’ “Locket Love,” Midnight Oil’s “Dreamworld,” the Charlatans’ “A Man Needs to be Told.”

Q: The last line of “Janine” coincides with the first one of “You Were So Warm.” Intentional?
A: Yes! Bless you for noticing.

Q: The credits diagram reminds me of something I might’ve drawn up in high school. Is it supposed to represent the inside of a speaker? Whose idea was it to use the great hand drawn lettering and illustration?
A: I don’t know that there was any specific reason for the shape of the inner drawing. I think Wolfy (the artist who illustrated the whole thing) was reacting in an interpretive way to a) the number of people involved and b) the unfortunately chaotic way the information was being delivered, due to our finishing mixes and stuff at the last second. A friend of his saw that diagram as he was working on it and noted that it looked like a shaker gift drawing.

The cover itself was originally a photo (that stereo actually existed for a day), but for one reason or another wasn’t working as a cover image. Years ago, when we only played in New York, I would send out little cards to friends and people on our mailing list, more often than not using a Shel Silverstein illustration as part of my primitive cut-and-paste and/or primitive collage art. I really love Wolfy’s drawing (we’ve been commissioning him and his partner Kayrock to make tour posters for us for over a decade). I asked him if he’d be willing to do a drawing of the cover photo. He was totally into it and what’s even better is that he went for my next idea, which was to imagine what the back of the stereo would look like and draw that. He ran with the idea and decided to do every single part of the package by hand. He didn’t have a lot of time, but he dove in and really did something amazing I think. Once the cover was going to be a line drawing, he decided to do the whole thing by hand.

Q: Did you want the brief instrumental to close the album on a dreamy note? That was written by your brother-in-law’s band, correct?
A: I did. Jonathan Caws-Elwitt has been writing really incredible songs for years. That particular one, “I remembered what I was going to say,” lives in the perfect-the-way-it-is, don’t-want-to-sing-it category, but I thought the instrumental theme, which is a thing of beauty all by itself, would be a lovely way to have the record sort of dance itself to a close. Exit music. Night music. I’d love to stage some kind of couples dance at the end of a show, but I feel like people don’t know how to dance like that, myself certainly included, so maybe it would play out like a slow motion mosh pit rather than a twirling ballroom.

Q: Other than David Bowie’s ‘Pin-Ups,’ which everyone seems to cite, what are some of your all-time favorite covers albums?
A: Well, yes, I love ‘Pin-Ups.’ I would like to join everyone and cite it as well. I don’t really have any other favorites. I love the cover of the Vetiver covers record - a thing of the past. I’ve only listened to Side One, and it’s pretty crazy good. I love the phosphorescent Willie Nelson covers album, ‘To Willie.’

Here’s my favorite though. There’s a great semi official, cassette only Replacements bootleg called ‘When the Shit Hits the Fans,’ which according to my vague recollection of the liner notes was conceived when someone was caught illegally taping a show and had the cassette removed from their recording Walkman, ostensibly by someone connected to the band. They just used it as a master and put it out. They do a lot of covers, half covers, quarter covers. Hilarious and totally (and drunkenly, natch) rocking. Here’s a partial list of songs: Robyn Hitchcock’s “Ye Sleeping Knights of Jesus,” “I’ll Be There,” “Saturday Night Special,” “Iron Man,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” “Heartbreaker,” Thin Lizzy’s “Jailbreak,” Tom Petty’s “Breakdown,” “Takin’ Care of Business,” “I Will Follow,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Radio Free Europe”…

Q: What else is on the horizon for Nada Surf in 2010?
A: We’re in the middle of a whole bunch of touring right now, with little breaks thrown in. We just took our second ever band holiday: 10 days in Ibiza (on the northern hippie end, not the southern oontz oontz oontz (attempt at techno/house as printed word) end. We listened to a lot of old unfinished songs and made up some new ones, but mostly listened to music together and got our minds around how we might approach the next album, which we’re hoping to be in the process of making by the end of this year. Amazing time. My horizon looks like this right now: show here in Geneva tomorrow, week in New York, starting to get new office / studio space together, West Coast tour, week in Japan, a few weeks off, month of European festivals and club shows, back to Japan for another week, month of odds and ends, then putting on of wooly thinking caps and off to the races with album number six!

An interview with Nada Surf

My feature on Nada Surf originally appeared in the North County Times. The band appears on Monday at the Belly Up in Solana Beach, Calif. and Tuesday-Wednesday at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. Go to for more info. Photo by Autumn de Wilde, courtesy of Big Hassle PR.

When a band decides to do a covers album, it is usually because they’ve had the urge for awhile or need to bide some time until the creative juices start flowing again.

Neither reason applied to indie rockers Nada Surf, whose impressive new release “If I Had a Hi-Fi,” is due out June 8. According to Matthew Caws, the musicians had actually soured on the idea several years ago.

“We decided, after having contributed songs to three tribute records (Pixies, Iggy Pop, Big Star), not to record cover songs anymore. This was more of a reaction to the varying quality of tribute records than the act of interpretation,” the singer/guitarist said via email, before Nada Surf appeared at a Swiss rock festival.

The idea came about spontaneously when the New York City trio was prepping a final European jaunt in support of 2008 studio effort “Lucky” and wanted frequent collaborator/tour mate Louie Lino along for the ride. The keyboardist reluctantly declined because owning a new recording studio in Austin was taking up all his free time.

Caws asked if a raise would seal the deal. “He said the only thing that would help would be if we made a record there. Deciding where we’re going to make our next studio record takes some thinking, so I suggested a covers record” and he agreed.

From the well-known (Moody Blues, Depeche Mode, Kate Bush, Spoon) and revered (Dwight Twilley, Go-Betweens) to more obscure names (Bill Fox, Soft Pack, Coralie Clement), the range of artist compositions on “Hi-Fi” is eclectic.

“While we tried not to have any hard-set rules with regards to song selection, something being lesser known was attractive. We certainly didn’t want to make a record that you could guess at the sound just by reading the song list,” wrote Caws. No stranger to singing in French, he does another one in that foreign tongue as well as Spanish on the album.

Each member of Nada Surf brought a potential song stack and played them for each other. “It was really very random and natural. There weren’t many songs that we’d been thinking about for years." The only exceptions: drummer Ira Elliot had wanted to do the Moodys’ “Question” for awhile and Bush’s “Love and Anger” had been one of the frontman’s favorites since its release in 1989.

"We were really trying to capture the spontaneity inherent in doing an album of original songs...and tried to choose [ones] that would either, a) sound different enough just by virtue of what we sound like, or b) would feel so natural to us that we’d be in ‘they could have written it’ territory.”

Spoon’s “Agony of Laffitte,” inspired by a poor experience with Elektra Records, definitely struck a personal chord for Nada Surf. It was also on the label’s roster for 1996 disc “High/Low,” which spawned the sarcastic modern rock radio hit “Popular.”

“I remember selling that EP when I was working in a record store after we got dropped [by Elektra]. We’d known the parties in question, so it resonated in a unique way.”

For Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence,” Nada Surf - rounded out by bassist Daniel Lorca - used subtle keyboards, driving guitars and vocalized the key melody line. Caws said “reworking that song was a big thrill…people do radical reinterpretations all the time, but it was a first for me!”

The Moodys track ended up both aggressive and luxurious in their hands, thanks to an actual string section. “Ira suggested we approach the fast parts in more of a Stooges manner - really pushing it. We used to do a lot of tempo shifting in the band’s early days. It was fun to go back to that kind of structure, where the landscape changes completely.”

Earlier this spring, Nada Surf performed three of its albums front to back for the first time at different hometown shows. “A couple songs we’d never played because we’d somehow internalized the idea that they were too difficult. Of course, as these things go, those turned out to be the easy ones.”

Afterward, “the biggest upshot of the whole experience for me was looking back at this huge stack of songs and thinking, ‘that’s a whole lot of power pop, check, now what?’

Caws said fans heading to the Belly Up can look forward to hearing at least half of “Hi-Fi” (which sports a cool hand stenciled cover of multiple speaker stacks) live. “Learning so many songs has loosened something up in us - in a good way - and the shows have been feeling really good.”

A-ha concert review: Los Angeles

A version of my review originally appeared in the OC Register.

When a-ha performed the propulsive orchestral-tinged hit “The Sun Always Shines on T.V.” during its encores at Club Nokia on Saturday night, a montage of old American movies and television shows was projected on a backdrop.

Watching brief images from 1980s NBC staples like “The Cosby Show” and “Miami Vice” brought to mind how another network – MTV - played a central role in the Norwegian synth pop trio’s short-lived stateside success.

The cable channel put the groundbreaking 1985 music video for buoyant single “Take on Me,” where telegenic vocalist Morten Harket was part of a comic strip come to life, into heavy rotation. Pop radio followed suit. The track went to No. 1, propelled debut album Hunting High and Low to platinum status and resulted in a Grammy nod for Best New Artist.

Despite a shift into more rock-oriented terrain, 1986’s Scoundrel Days was basically met with deaf ears here and the group faded from view. In Europe and South America though, it was a different story. An extended mid-‘90s break notwithstanding, a-ha’s international success continued (more than a dozen UK top 20 singles; a Guinness World Record for concert attendance in Rio).

More recently, a-ha’s ongoing influence has been seen through live covers by Jonas Brothers and Reel Big Fish. Leonard Cohen, Graham Nash, members of U2, Coldplay, Oasis, Keane and Pet Shop Boys have either collaborated with or professed their admiration in interviews for the Oslo natives. Animated TV sitcom “The Family Guy” even did a parody of “Take on Me.”

Ninth studio album Foot of the Mountain – a partial return to a-ha’s electronic roots - was released abroad last year. Rhino Records finally put out The Singles: 1984-2004 domestically and will make deluxe expanded editions of Hunting and Scoundrel available in late June exclusively through

The first of two sold-out shows at L.A. Live marked a-ha’s long-awaited return after a 24-year absence (tonight’s gig concludes the short North American portion of the global farewell tour). Before doors opened and concertgoers jockeyed for position behind the seated floor area, I encountered people that had flown in from the Bay Area, Portland and Chicago. All were ecstatic to see their Scandinavian idols one last time.

This was definitely a gig for the diehards; those who came for selections from the debut had a long wait. Mostly adhering to a reverse chronological order and touching upon every album in the catalog (including over half of Scoundrel), a-ha launched the enrapturing 95-minute set with an atmospheric “Bandstand.” Punctuated by percolating synths, it rivaled Depeche Mode’s latest work.

Another new one, the glorious, acoustic guitar-based single “Foot of the Mountain,” showcased Harket’s fluttering vocals. Gorgeous aerial shots of trees in the wilderness provided perfect visual accompaniment.

Harket, 50, clad in a dark suit jacket and dress pants, looked like he just stepped out of the pages of GQ. His equally sharply dressed bandmates, only a couple years younger, also appeared fit and trim. The frontman kept quiet, except to greet a former Warner Bros. Records exec he spotted from the stage. That left gregarious keyboardist Magne “Mags” Furuholmen to serve as a cheerleader of sorts, getting the crowd pumped up at various junctures.

Aided by a live drummer and a keyboardist/bassist, the 2000s material had a more sophisticated feel, while the freshly stripped down tunes (“Minor Earth, Major Sky,” “Summer Moved On” – where Harket had no trouble holding a long sustained note) worked wonders. Guitarist Paul Waaktaar-Savoy displayed some funky licks and engaged in a mini-jam with Harket and Furuholmen during “Move to Memphis.”

One early highlight came via the ultra dramatic “Stay on These Roads.” Harket’s robust falsetto got another fine workout here with more awe-inspiring notes. The extended title track to 1987 James Bond flick “The Living Daylights” (complete with 007 graphics) was bombastic, yet exciting. I’d forgotten how much it had in common with ‘80s rival Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” since both shared a producer.

“Thanks for reminding us we have friends on this side of the ocean,” said Furuholmen, before playing a xylophone on the subtle “And You Tell Me” with just his two band mates onstage.

Elsewhere, the bizarre New Wave/rock tandem of Mellotron and eerie synths on “Manhattan Skyline” found fans responding to Harket’s “wave goodbye” refrain and the dance-oriented “Cry Wolf” was infectious retro fun. Supercharged finale “Take on Me,” paired with both the original video and other animated footage, plus Furuholmen’s modern keyboard sounds, definitely ended the performance on a high.

A-ha, Club Nokia, Los Angeles, May 15
Main set: Bandstand/Foot of the Mountain/Analogue (All I Want)/Forever Not Yours/Minor Earth. Major Sky/Summer Moved On/Move to Memphis/Blood That Moves the Body/Stay on These Roads/The Living Daylights/Scoundrel Days/The Swing of Things/And You Tell Me/Early Morning/We’re Looking for the Whales/Manhattan Skyline/I’ve Been Losing You/Cry Wolf

First encore:
Hunting High and Low/The Sun Always Shines on T.V.
Second encore: Take on Me

Monday, May 3, 2010

Needtobreathe concert

Last week, a revised version of my needtobreathe interview ran on and I finally got the chance to see the band do a headlining set at the Glass House on Friday. Having seen them do a half hour set at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Irvine, CA as part of the FishFest event in Summer 2009, I knew a little about what to expect.

This time, I was even more blown away. It was one of the best shows I've seen so far in 2010. For starters, they brought a large theater type light show into the Glass House - something I've rarely seen in attending many gigs since its 1996 opening. Another rarity: promoter Goldenvoice's head honcho Paul Tollet (he's also responsible for Coachella) was in attendance.

The 75-minute set featured a major chunk of 2009's "The Outsiders" as well as some choice covers (Ben Harper's "Better Way" segued into the Beatles' "Come Together" few from "The Heat."