An afternoon monsoon couldn’t hold native sons Better Than Ezra away from the Acura Stage at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on Sunday.
The Bayou-based trio were helped by the fact the showers had subsided by the time their set was to start, revealing a muddy infield filled with Ezralites and a sea of umbrellas and collapsible chairs that had been set in place early to mark prime spots for the headlining Dave Matthews Band.
What ensued was a run through Better Than Ezra’s 25-year catalog of alternative rock hits and a few gems that surprised even diehards.
Griffin was effusive in praise of the crowd and the festival in general, noting that “There are a lot of festivals, but this is at the top of the wish list.”
As such, Better than Ezra granted several wishes early, coming out of the gates with their smash single “Good” and following that with the infinitely catchy “Misunderstood.”
The band also made good use of a guest horn section that included Bonerama trombonist Mark Mullins, especially the track “Extra Ordinary,” which also included a few verses of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ current hip hop hit “Thrift Store.”
Griffin called his brassy backup the “horns of love,” and those horns continued to support through the fan-favorite “Desperately Wanting.”
It was obvious that the guys were having fun on the soggy final day of Jazz Fest, and rightfully so, as they were also celebrating the recent re-release of 1998’s How Does Your Garden Grow? in 5.1 surround-sound audio.
Interestingly, however, Better Than Ezra closed with two songs that were not on that album – or any of their other records.
One can imagine the pop when the opening chords of James’ “Laid” rang out over the speakers, with Griffin triumphantly singing “This bed is on fire with passionate love!” to the willing ears of the audience.
And it was playtime for the finale, with Griffin channeling his inner MC for Gorillaz’ “Feel Good Inc,” complete with the menacing cackling background laughter that appears in the original version.
Each year that Better Than Ezra performs at Jazz Fest, it seems like they feel more and more at home. On Sunday, their neighbors were happy to welcome them back.