Collective Soul with Rubikon-Wind Creek Event Center – Bethlehem, PA

Collective Soul with Rubikon 

Wind Creek Event Center – Bethlehem, PA – August 17, 2023

Review & Photos – Rebecca Wolf

Wind Creek Event Center was packed on August 17th with enthusiastic audience members spanning a multi-decade age range, from Gen Z-ers to Baby Boomers. Audience members entered the event center in high spirits, ready to sing along to a music catalog of almost 30 years. This catalog, with multiple chart-topping hits, belongs to the incredibly dynamic, alternative rock band Collective Soul. While the crowd began the evening already exhilarated, the electricity in the event center was raised to greater heights by the explosive energy of opening act Rubikon, a hard rock band from Boston, Massachusetts.

Rubikon was on fire from the moment they hit the stage and their flames never diminished throughout their 30-minute performance. Lead singer Jae Sims showcased soaring rock vocals, ranging from a powerful, gritty hard-rock sound to numbers with a more melodic undertone. Josh Gruss played guitar with laser focus and intensity, while Dave Raymond, fiercely jammed on his guitar and Doug Arsham, drums and backing vocals, pounded a heavy, rhythmic beat. Most eye-catching on stage was bass player Hugh Eaton, who frenetically moved about the stage, flipping his hair and displaying passionate, emotion-filled rock and roll faces. The reverberations generated by the fierce rock sound filled the event center as the band performed several songs from their 2019 album, The Record, and a couple older numbers, before ending their set with their newly released single “Lose It All.”  

With the audience primed and ready for the arrival of Collective Soul, excitement buzzed throughout the crowd. As the lights dimmed and the band was about to enter the stage, fans were suddenly thrilled to see the ever-exuberant, make-a-grand-entrance Ed Roland, the band’s lead singer, songwriter, walk down the venue’s center aisle and through the pit area, with a broad smile on his face and waving his arms. Entering the stage through the side-wing with his bandmates, Roland made his typical grand entrance, exuding intoxicating energy and passion that captured everyone’s attention. This exuberance, powerful spirit ad impassioned dedication to each and every Collective Soul performance keeps fans enraptured with Roland from his entrance until the band’s last note.

The band opened the evening with “Cut the Cord,” from their most recent album, 2022’s Vibrating, followed by “Heavy,” from 1999’s Dosage, both numbers with fast-moving, high-energy drum beats and guitar riffs, before moving to “Right As Rain,” from 2019’s Blood and “Compliment” from Dosage, more melodic rock numbers. “Shine,” from 1994’s debut studio album, Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid, whichhit No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart, brought audience members to their feet, excitedly and joyfully singing along. The energy and high spirit of the crowd continued throughout the hour and a half set, escalating with each hit but never significantly decreasing during the performance, even when two yet-to-be-released numbers, “Not the Same,” and “Mother’s Love” were performed. The crowd seemed to go crazy at the start of every song. Whatever Collective Soul played, the dedicated fans adored. The fan enthusiasm was not surprising. It’s almost 30 years after Collective Soul’s arrival on the music scene and they’re not resting on their beloved hits, though they could. They’re continuing to create new, fresh music; they’re touring with abundant energy and they’re sounding incredible, both vocally and instrumentally 

Cheers and applause rang out as Roland thanked the Pennsylvania crowd for being there. “We are not the United State,” he announced.  “We are the United States. So, all of the proceeds tonight are going to those affected in Hawaii right now. So, thank you to all of you for being here!” The audience again cheered and applauded the generosity and humanity of the band. “You got to hear some some things you never heard. Now let’s get back to the 90s!” shouted Roland. “Who remembers 1997? My goal is to bring back 1997, when rock was real!!”  There was an eruption of cheers from the crowd, as all agreed….let’s get back to the 90s. As the band performed “Precious Declaration,” from 1997’s Disciplined Breakdown, the  audience rose to their feet and sang along while guitar player, Jesse Triplett and rhythm guitarist, Dean Roland, made their way to the back of the stage to jam beside Johnny Rabb on drums. 

Seeing the audience’s passion being reflected back to the band, Roland stated, “I like you. We love coming here. You are a community here. Don’t lose that vibe.” The proud Pennsylvania crowd cheered and a front row fan threw a t-shirt onstage to Roland. “You want me to sign this?” Roland asked? “Do you have a Sharpie?” Roland proceeded to sign the shirt and passed it around for the band to sign. “I’ve never seen anyone do that before,” I overheard the people in front of me comment. Not surprising, as Ed Roland, is not your typical rocker. 

“I’m going to tell you a story,” Roland shared. “My father was a Southern Baptist Minister and loved stories. So, I’m gonna tell you one. One day I called my brother Dean and said, ‘I’m getting divorced.’ He said, ‘I’m getting divorced too.’ It was not a good time for the band. But, it was a time to grow, a time to learn, a time to be a man. I think I wrote one of the greatest divorce songs ever written.  It’s called “Better Now.”” Performing the uplifting, weight-off-my-shoulders number from 2004’s Youth, Roland migrated to the back to the stage, where Rabb showcased a dynamic drum solo. With a positive vibe in full-swing, Roland heighten the excitement further. “Are you ready to have some fun?” he shouted and led the audience in responsive singing of the song’s chorus “The world’s done shakin’, The world’s done shakin’, The world’s done shakin’ me down.” While Roland and the audience took turns, Triplett exploded into a passionate guitar solo and bass player, Will Turpin, joined centerstage for a guitar jam. 

As Roland unknowingly began to introduced the band members for a second time, he suddenly became aware he’d already done so. “Well, I’m going to introduce everyone again! I don’t give a shit!” he empathically stated, to which the crowd cheered and hooted. “They deserve to know who we are! I just turned 60 man!!” he commented, regarding his forgetfulness. As Roland began to play the first acoustic guitar notes of their hit “The World I Know”, from their 1995 self-titled album, the crowd began to hoot, before passionately joining in during the chorus. Moving into “December,” the crowd went crazy upon hearing another hit from the 1995 album.

Being 60 years old has not slowed Roland down from dancing, prancing and skipping across the stage, clapping his hands and feverishly encouraging the audience to do so as well. “We are from Georgia,” announced Roland. “There was so much music in Georgia, including, Little Richard, Otis Redding, James  Brown, and Atlanta Rhythm Section. But, there was one 80s band that opened the door for us in Georgia. It’s a band called REM and we’d like to play one of their songs for you. “As the band played REM’s “The One I Love,” the audience rose to their feet, singing along, while Roland jumped up and down as he sang the line “Fire!!!”  Additional songs in 16-song set included , “Why, Pt. 2,” “Gel,” and “Where the River Flows.” 

The night ended with the emotive, heartfelt “Run,” from Dosage. “Willy T, let’s see what you can do,” said Roland, as he sat on the drum platform and let Turpin take the lead. Singing, “Oh, oh ohhhh, Oh oh ohhhh,” Turpin lead the audience in repeatedly imitating the vocal pattern, before Roland returned to centerstage, quieted the crowd and softly began singing. As Roland’s voice rose in volume he slowed the song’s pace as he sang “I’ve got a long way to run” with heartfelt angst that mesmerized the crowd. As the audience began to sing, “I got a long way to run” the band played and Roland joined in at full volume, ending the song and the performance with energy and passion true to Ed Roland and to a Collective Soul performance. “God Bless You!!! God Bless You!!”  Roland shouted to the boisterous cheers and applause of the adoring fans. From Gen Z-ers to Baby Boomers, all in attendance would surely agree that Collective Soul and their music continues to “Shine.”