Lucero and a Bottle of Christmas Cheer December 23, 2011Posted by Matt in concerts.
Tags: Amy LaVere, Ben Nichols, Christmas, concert, Drink Till We're Gone, Lucero, Memphis, Minglewood Hall
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When you think of Christmas, what comes to mind? The Nativity? Santa Claus? Reindeer with mutant powers?
How about a concert by Memphis Southern rock heroes, Lucero?
If that last one isn’t on your list, it should be. Last night I had the opportunity to catch Lucero’s Holiday Show at Minglewood Hall in Memphis and it was truly a night to remember.
I arrived at the venue shortly before the listed start time of 8:00, grabbed a beer, and soon met up with friends from Arkansas and Memphis who were also in attendance. We took a spot pretty close to the stage, sipped our beverages, and visited, catching up on the happenings in our lives and chatting about our shared love of music.
Opening act Amy LaVere hit the stage around 8:15, grasping her upright bass tightly, plucking and caressing the strings with a lover’s touch. Her lovely appearance was enhanced by the macabre nature of her songs, as tales of death and murder poured forth in a fountain of Southern gothic imagery. Opening with the strong bass line of “Washing Machine,” she and her band tore through several numbers from her three albums like “You Can’t Keep Me,” “Red Banks,” “Stranger Me,” the timely and appropriate “Pointless Drinking,” and one of my favorite tunes of the year and one that she described as “the only love song I know how to write, “Damn Love Song.” It was a great set from an incredible Memphis artist.
Lucero hit the stage around 9:30, with vocalist Ben Nichols, skinny and heavily tattooed, taking the center. He smiled at the adoring crowd of several hundred, “We thought about doing a different opener, but, ah, what the hell?” and the band launched into their standard set starter, “That Much Further West,” the song building to a crescendo with Nichols’ whiskey-soaked vocals masterfully leading the multitude of fans in a huge singalong, taking on the role of pastor to his flock of loyal followers, turning them into a single organism, moving and singing as one.
It was obvious that he and the band were glad to be home and hugely grateful to their legion of fans, so much so that they played and played, tearing through an unbelievable setlist, one that lasted more than 3 full hours. There were old favorites like “My Best Girl,” “Raising Hell,” and the encore opening “Drink Till We’re Gone.” They played a killer “Chain Link Fence” (my 9 year old daughter’s favorite song), a church choir-like “Nights Like These,” and ripped through favorites like “She’s Just That Kind of Girl,” “Sixes and Sevens,” and “Can’t Feel a Thing.” The band was in rare form, laying their claim to not just Minglewood Hall, but the entire city of Memphis, showing once again that they are the city’s rock stars, and one of the greatest “unknown” bands working in America today. At some point, Ben broke out a bottle of tequila and in between the killer songs, he took time to address the crowd, talking and joking with everyone like they were old friends (and I’m sure many of them were). As they neared the end of their encore, my friends and I looked at each other, bewildered, running through song lists in our minds and wondering what could possibly be left to play. When the final song kicked in, my friend Chris and I looked at each other and nodded, a knowing look in our eyes, “Tears Don’t Matter Much.” Of course.
After the show, as the clock neared the 1:00 mark, we stood around as the building slowly emptied, soaking in the last bits of the atmosphere floating about, breathing it in before stepping back out into the cold December night of Memphis. We knew we had just witnessed something really special, a momentous occasion that would stick with us, perhaps even forever. Of all the Lucero shows I’ve seen, this one may have topped them all. But, before we exited the building, there was another pleasant surprise in store: the band came out to visit and meet with the few who stayed behind. I had the chance to say hello to Amy LaVere, to tell guitarist Brian Venable about my Lucero-loving daughter and the band shirt I bought her for Christmas, and I got to meet and visit with Ben Nichols himself after the show. And though I only had a few moments with them, you could tell that they were real, down-to-earth kinds of people who were grateful for their fans and happy to do what they do.
And Ben posed for a picture with me, which I thought was pretty awesome too.
“Life is short
In spite of your plans
So tell the girls they’re all pretty while you can
‘Cause one day they’re gone
And all you got left’s
An empty bottle and an old country song”
Still Truckin’ October 31, 2011Posted by Matt in concerts.
Tags: concert, DBT fans are the best, drive-by truckers, Memphis, Mercy Buckets, New Daisy, setlist, zip city
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I came, I saw, I went to another Drive-By Truckers show, my 2nd this year and 11th overall by my best recollection, and they continue to blow me away every time they take the stage. This weekend they played the New Daisy Theater in downtown Memphis, a place where singer Patterson Hood once worked long ago and that, I would imagine, holds a warm place in his heart.
I walked into the building alone, but it’s kind of unusual the way life is for diehard Trucker fans, for by the end of the night, it was as though I was surrounded by friends, people whom I had just met, yet felt a certain kinship towards, even after only 3 hours of loud music. As I mentioned earlier, I quickly fell in with people from Arkansas because of my Razorback hat, and soon I began to meet others. There was a couple from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the hometown of several of the band members. When I found that out, the conversation went something like this.
“Ok,” I said, “So, Zip City?”
The guy looked at me strangely, the light reflecting from his shaved bald head, “Yeah?”
“So, we were passing through the Florence area a couple of years ago and I took a detour to see the town. Zip City.”
“You,” he looked at me with incredulous disbelief, “went to Zip City? Really?”
“Yeah, sure did.”
He chuckled, “Ain’t much there, is there?”
“No, but I did get my picture taken in front of the Salem Church of Christ. Other than that, all I saw was the Zip City Volunteer Fire Department. There wasn’t even a city limit sign.”
Then the woman that was with him chimed in, “You know all those people and things that write about are real, especially Jason’s (Isbell) songs.”
“Yep. You know Holland Hill (from the song “Decoration Day”)? He’s a real person. The Hills still live in the Shoals today.”
“Wow,” is all I can say, awestruck at the revelation.
The man jumped back in, “They’re a great band and I’m glad to see them do so well, but back home they’re just like anybody else.”
The opening band of the night was Them Darlins, a mostly female outfit (only the drummer was male) who played a really great mix of 90’s-esque Riot Grrrl type songs with a distinctly southern sensibility. I enjoyed their show a great deal and after checking them out on Spotify I am a certified fan.
The Truckers hit the stage after 9:00, ripping through the up tempo Cooley tune, “Get Downtown,” before heavying things up a bit with “Drag the Lake Charlie” and “Where the Devil Don’t Stay.” The band was in excellent form, as always, as they tore through an excellent blend of songs from across their career. One of the highlights for me was a newer song of theirs, “Mercy Buckets,” which came near the end of the set. It’s a wonderfully emotional number, and you could see Patterson Hood pouring his heart and soul into it as he sang:
When all your good days keep getting shorter, count on me.
When you’re about 20 cents shy of a quarter, count on me.
When you just need a place to hide out for a while.
I’ll help you hide the bodies in a little while
I will bring you buckets of mercy,
And hold your hand when you’re crossing the street.
I’ll play a song if you want it.
It was a transcendent moment, and suddenly a song that I liked but never paid that much attention to became one of my favorites. It’s kind of funny the way a live show will do that to you.
It took until the encore before they played my very favorite DBT song, and one of my favorite songs by anybody all time, the aforementioned “Zip City,” and as always, it was incredible.
Seriously, if you’ve never seen the Drive-By Truckers live, do yourself a favor and catch them as soon as possible.
Here is the complete setlist:
Drag the Lake Charlie
Where the Devil Don’t Stay
Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife
A Ghost to Most
I’m Sorry Houston
The Tough Sell
Box of Spiders
Everybody Needs Love
Women Without Whiskey
Hell No, I Ain’t Happy
3 Dimes Down
Let There Be Rock
People Who Died
A Concert Dream Come True April 1, 2011Posted by Matt in free music friday.
Tags: Backstreet Boys, concert, Memphis, New Kids on the Block
I love live music and go to as many shows as I can, but there is one group from the past that I have yet to catch in concert. I thought that perhaps I had lost my chance to ever see them, that their ship had passed in the night for the last time, leaving me to only think of what might have been. So, imagine my excitement when I saw that they were coming to Memphis this June! Wow, I could hardly contain myself!
You may be asking yourself, who is the group that has Matt’s heart all aflutter?
New Kids on the Block. And it’s not just them, we also get the Backstreet Boys. Here’s a taste of what we’ll be seeing here in Memphis.
Yeah, I know you’re jealous. Though I’ve known about this upcoming show for a few weeks, this seemed like an appropriate day to bring it up.
Tale of a Trucker Fan January 27, 2011Posted by Matt in concerts, music.
Tags: concert, drive-by truckers, music is life, Oxford
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The life of a human being is one that can be told by its degree of darkness. For what is life but a frightened stumble through the blackest night, with little to guide our wayward journey but the light that we ourselves find? Perhaps our luminescent glow emits from the books we read, perhaps from our religion, or perhaps, as in my case, it is through the lantern of music. Whether it is sweetly sung or a loud, discordant mess, it is the muse that joins me in the valley of the shadow of death, the vehicle by which this broken reality can be transcended.
I could wax on about a number of artists whose music has affected me in one way or another, but for the past ten years, there are few that have done so like the Drive-By Truckers. I believe the first time I ever heard of the band was in a magazine review of their 2001 magnum opus Southern Rock Opera, and I soon downloaded several of their songs. Then, in what can only be described as a providential act of Euterpe herself, a friend bestowed upon me a copy of their live album Alabama Ass Whuppin’, and immediately I was hooked. In 2003, upon the release of the incredible Decoration Day, I acquired a copy as quickly as possible and thus began my life as a Trucker devotee.
There is something about their Southern Gothic tales of the down-and-out, the reviled, their ruminations on God and love and death, that strikes at the very heart of my being, that registers in my soul like no one else. When they talk of “the duality of the Southern thing,” it strikes deep down because that is me. That is how I stumble through every day. I’m the one that’s “trying to hold steady on the righteous path.” And I’m the one who will say, “There ain’t much difference in the man I wanna be and the man I really am.”
I say all of this because I’m going to see them again tomorrow night, this time down in Oxford, Mississippi. To the best I can recall, this will be my seventh time to see the band and to say I’m excited would be a huge understatement. The last DBT show I caught was back in the Fall and it was one of the most incredible live experiences I’ve ever had. If you’d like to read my accounts of the show, both of which were also published on DBT’s fan site, you can see them here and here.
Tomorrow night can’t get here soon enough…
Random Five: Drive-By Truckers September 16, 2010Posted by Matt in Random Five.
Tags: best songs, Brighter Than Creation's Dark, concert, Decoration Day, drive-by truckers, Memphis, Southern Rock Opera, The Big To-Do, The Dirty South
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It’s no secret to anyone who has been reading the various iterations of this blog over the past 5 years that I’m a huge fan of the Drive-By Truckers, and have been for the better part of a decade. I’ve long praised their dark tales of life in the American South, while collecting all of their recordings and seeing them perform live five times or so. I had a chance to catch them earlier this year at the Beale Street Music Festival, which was fine, but due to time constraints, it was a bit more condensed than other times – particularly when compared to the incredible 3.5 hour monstrosity I was able to witness a few years ago. Well, tomorrow night I’ll have the opportunity to see them again on their latest trip through Memphis and I must say that I’m already near bursting with excitement. Their live shows are so energetic and insane, so loud and jarring that they blow nearly everyone else completely away. When you have the chance, make sure you go see them.
That being the case, I thought I would give you my five favorite DBT albums today. Let me know what you think.
5. Brighter Than Creation’s Dark
2008’s Brighter is probably the most country music-oriented album in their catalog, with some tunes (“Lisa’s Birthday”) displaying a full blast of that old school country style. This one also marks, for better or worse, the first album with Shonna Tucker, the replacement for the great Jason Isbell, on bass.
4. The Big To-Do
DBT’s most recent release takes a step back into the more hard-edged southern rock stylings of their earlier albums, a genre that seems to work best for them. With the exception of a few songs written by Shonna that I don’t really care for, it is a very good album, particularly on the heavy riff of “Drag the Lake Charlie” and Patterson Hood’s “The Fourth Night of My Drinking.” This was also their highest charting album to date, coming in at #22 on the US charts.
3. Decoration Day
This 2003 release was the first DBT album I bought and it was a great one to start with, it’s overriding themes of family and death fitting perfectly into the canon. Though the rocking “Sinkhole” is still a concert favorite, Jason Isbell is the real hero on this album, contributing perhaps two of their best songs, “Outfit” and “Decoration Day.”
2. The Dirty South
The follow-up to Decoration Day showed the Truckers delving even farther into the dark nature of life in the South, with more songs about death, family, and lovelorn tragedies. “Puttin’ People on the Moon” is a particularly damning take on NASA’s presence in Huntsville, Alabama, and it’s effect on the people of the region and “Where the Devil Don’t Say” is an excellent concert rocker, but again it is Isbell’s heartsick album closer “God**** Lonely Love” that rules this one.
1. Southern Rock Opera
There are few, if any, albums in the history of Southern Rock that encapsulate life in Dixie the way this one does. When Hood sings of the “duality of the Southern Thing” it makes sense, the good and bad of the South holding separate portions on the scales of life. This album, though, belongs to lead guitarist and co-founder (along with Hood) Mike Cooley, who contributes my all-time favorite DBT song, “Zip City.” It’s really a great album, one of my favorites of the entire decade and I would strongly urge all of you to check it out.
In case you don’t want to buy full albums, I have also decided to give you a bonus with today’s random five: A must-have DBT playlist of 20 songs that you should hear given in album order.
18 Wheels of Love (from Gangstabilly)
Why Henry Drinks (from Gangstabilly)
The Company I Keep (from Pizza Deliverance)
Love Like This (from Pizza Deliverance)
The Southern Thing (from Southern Rock Opera)
Zip City (from Southern Rock Opera)
Let There Be Rock (from Southern Rock Opera)
Guitar Man Upstairs (from Southern Rock Opera)
The Deeper In (from Decoration Day)
Sink Hole (from Decoration Day)
Outfit (from Decoration Day)
Where the Devil Don’t Stay (from The Dirty South)
Puttin’ People on the Moon (from The Dirty South)
God**** Lonely Love (from The Dirty South)
Aftermath USA (from A Blessing and a Curse)
The Righteous Path (from Brighter than Creation’s Dark)
A Ghost to Most (from Brighter than Creation’s Dark)
The Fourth Night of My Drinking (from The Big To-Do)
Drag the Lake Charlie (from The Big To-Do)
Birthday Boy (from The Big To-Do)
Free Music Friday – The Hold Steady July 9, 2010Posted by Matt in free music friday.
Tags: concert, The Hold Steady, The Whigs, video
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I just bought tickets to a show taking place this weekend that I’m really excited about – The Hold Steady and The Whigs. Both groups are great, among the best working today, and the chance to see them at a small venue like the Hi-Tone is an offer I can’t refuse. This is gonna be awesome.
I bet they play this song: Sequestered in Memphis
And here is a clip of the great opening band, The Whigs:
Rusting in Peace March 24, 2010Posted by Matt in concerts, music.
Tags: concert, Dave Mustaine, Exodus, Megadeth, Memphis, Minglewood Hall, Rust in Peace, Testament
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Last night I had the opportunity to witness live one of the greatest metal bands to ever grace a stage – Megadeth. The band itself was born back in the early 1980’s by Dave Mustaine, who had just been kicked out of another seminal metal band, Metallica. Mustaine has served as lead vocalist, guitarist, and principle songwriter for the band for over a quarter century, churning out some of the best metal riffs ever composed to go along with his trademark growl.
When I arrived at Minglewood Hall, one of Memphis’s newest and nicest venues, I was greeted by a long, long line. After waiting for a good 30 minutes and missing about half of the first opening band, Exodus, I finally made my way through the doors and into the building. The inner sanctum of Minglewood consists of two bars along opposing walls, a stage on one end, and a large floor for standing crowds. 1980’s thrash metal middleweights Exodus were blazing through a set of loud and aggressive songs I didn’t know, so I made my way closer to the stage, being careful to avoid the mosh pit at all costs. I couldn’t help but laugh a bit at the way I kept out of the masses of sweaty, sometimes shirtless, males pushing each other around while the music blasted out in front of them. I remembered 15 years ago when I attended that Pantera show (as well as many others) and how I would have been right in the middle of the melee. I guess age does bring some measure of wisdom after all.
I retreated to the bar and grabbed a drink after the band finished and while the crew for the next group, Testament, readied the stage. Testament is another thrash metal band whose genesis came about in the 1980’s, and, though I had heard of them before, I didn’t know much of anything about them. It turns out that last night they followed Megadeth’s lead and also took on one of their complete albums, Legacy, which in some circles is recognized as a classic. Their set lasted around 45 minutes and mainly consisted of machine gun guitar riffs and yelling, but I found it to be a pretty good precursor of what was to come. If I had known some of the songs it might have been even better, but it was enjoyable nevertheless.
By the time the stage was set for the main act of the night, Megadeth, the room had filled up nicely – I would guess that there were at least 1,000 people and the crowd may have even approached the 1,500 person capacity. There was an interesting mix of people, from young people looking at the enduring music before their time to older blue collar men with fond memories of their 1980’s teen years, some of whom were even parents bringing their own children along to see a band of their youth. I would estimate the crowd to have been about 75-80% male, creating a cloud of testosterone that enveloped the entire floor.
When Dave Mustaine appeared on the stage along with the other band members, which included another founding member, bassist David Ellefson, the first thing he did was to chide some parents in front of the stage for bringing their young children with them. He said, “Look, I wouldn’t let my kids be in this area and I don’t want them to get hurt,” so he took them over the wall separating the floor from the stage and placed them somewhere safer to view the show. Once that was out of the way, the band tore into their set, opening with a song that I was not as familiar with (“She-Wolf”) but which rocked the house. Dave and the band were in rare form, tearing through intricate and impossibly fast riffs while the crowd pushed and writhed before them. Soon we were one big, sweaty mass of human flesh, swaying about and banging head to the music. As the first song started, I noticed a small-statured guy a few yards away bump into the girlfriend of a big guy that looked as though he bench-pressed pickup trucks for a living. Naturally, the big guy didn’t take too kindly to this and, without saying much of anything (at least nothing that can be printed on here), he took the little guy down – right there in the middle of everyone. The fight was broken up almost as quickly as it was started, but I was sure to make a note to myself not to mess with anybody.
The band was unfazed, though, and rocked through two more tunes, the classic about the late Cliff Burton, “In My Darkest Hour,” and the killer opener of the Countdown to Extinction album, “Skin O’ My Teeth.” Once those were finished, Dave retreated to the side for a moment to take a drink of water, before again approaching the microphone. “Now,” he growled, his long red hair flowing about him like a lion’s mane, “it’s time to get down to business. Tonight we’re gonna play one of the greatest ****ing albums ever! Rust in Peace!” The crowd went crazy and soon the familiar opening riff of “Holy Wars…the Punishment Due” pummeled the crowd, whipping them into a frenzy. There is a good reason why this particular album is considered one of the must-have classics of the metal genre – every song is killer and the whole thing flows into one incredible masterpiece. I won’t go through every song they played, but below is a list of the nine tunes that make up the album. During its course the band didn’t stop for breaks or for much in the way of talking, they just rocked.
Holy Wars…The Punishment Due
Take No Prisoners
Foison was the Cure
Tornado of Souls
Rust In Peace…Polaris
As they finished the last notes of “Polaris,” the final song of the set, Dave stepped to mike again, “That’s it. Rust in peace,” and the band exited the area. Of course we knew that the concert wasn’t over yet, so the crowd continued to yell and scream, eventually settling on a cadence of “Meg-a-deth Meg-a-deth,” before the four band members again appeared from the back.
“Thank you,” Dave began, before launching into a story about some member (or perhaps a leader) of their fan club, who was dying and in hospice care. According to him, they had just found out before the show started. “I’d like to ask that you all join me in a moment of silence,” he said and he bowed his head. The crowd quieted a bit and then, when they saw that he wasn’t joking, the chattered died down to nothing and the crowd, with their long, sweaty hair and black leather, fell silent. But the tranquility didn’t last long, for you know that there always has to be somebody, some drunken idiot who breaks the ordained moment of remembrance.
“Megadeth rocksshh!” the unseen voice slurred out loud, above everyone.
A look of anger flashed across Mustaine’s face as he looked back at the crowd, the adoring fans from all around and, amid a string of unprintable profanities aimed at the loudmouth, he told everyone that they had his permission to punch the guy in the face.
“This next song’s dedicated to the ****** who said that. It’s called, “Skullcrusher.” Soon the band was again ripping through another number that led into the next one, which I also didn’t know as well, “Trust.” As the final heavy notes died away, Mustaine again stepped away for a drink, and as he stepped back into the spotlight, a familiar few choral notes blasted over the speakers and he ripped into the big, nasty, and well-known “Symphony of Destruction” opening riff. The crowd was tired, but still loud and boisterous and moving about, as they sang at top of their lungs, sweat-drenched and happy. Mustaine growled out the last refrains:
Just like the Pied Piper
Led rats through the streets
We dance like marionettes,
Swaying to the Symphony…
Swaying to the Symphony…
And the band walked off the stage.
But the recorded music over the loudspeakers that always marks the end of a concert had not yet started, nor had the lights come on, so we knew that the show was not over. Again the crowd yelled and screamed and stomped, “Meg-a-deth Meg-a-deth!” until the band walked out one last time.
“Thank you again,” Dave said before again retreating into the shadows on the side of the stage. This time Ellefson stepped to the forefront and began one of the most well-known bass riffs in metal history – the opener to the classic, “Peace Sells.”
As the guitars kicked in, Mustain again stepped up and began the question and answer lyrics that we all know so well, “What do you mean I don’t believe in God? / Talk to him every day. / What do you mean I don’t support your system? / I go to court when I have to,” and so forth, until he reached that well known chorus and everyone joined in, yelling as loud as their stretched to the limit vocal chords could handle.
If there’s a new way
I’ll be the first in line
But, it better work this time.
It was one of those transcendent moments in metal music, one in which everyone joins together as one entity in a show of defiance and angst, one that is both empowering and rebellious. And as the song progressed into the bridge refrain, “Peace sells, but who’s buyin’” it was obvious that this night was a special one indeed. At the end of the final encore selection, the band again broke into the final piece of “Holy Wars,” and Mustaine introduced the band, taking special care to point out the presence of longtime bandmate and sometimes enemy, Ellefson.
With a, “Thank you, Memphis,” he was gone. Hot, sweaty, tired, and nearly deaf, the rest of us made our way into the parking lot, excitedly and loudly talking (it’s hard to hear when your ears are ringing that badly over the show). It was a truly great experience.
You know, sometimes I think I’m getting too old for always wanting to go to concerts. I mean, I’m in my 30’s with small kids, a white collar office job and a house in the suburbs, but then experiences like this take place and I realize that there is far too much great music out there to quit now.
Maybe when I’m 40…..nahhh
Still Rusting in Peace January 26, 2010Posted by Matt in concerts.
Tags: concert, Megadeth, Memphis, Minglewood Hall, Rust in Peace
I just received an email update from one of the newest concert venues in Memphis, Minglewood Hall, regarding an upcoming show and I have to say I am intrigued.
To begin, I know that I’ve mentioned before that I have a soft spot for heavy metal music. I started coming of age in the late 80′s-early 90′s and that was one genre that I latched onto. It was a good time for that type of music because several bands were hitting their commerical peak and I listened to most of them – Metallica, Pantera, Megadeth, and others.
Well, the upcoming concert, on Tuesday, March 23, is none other than the heavy riffs and intelligent lyrics of Dave Mustain and Megadeth. Not only that, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Rust in Peace, they will be playing the entire album. Yeah, you heard that right – Megadeth playing the entire Rust in Peace album live. How cool is that?
A Night with Neko November 5, 2009Posted by Matt in concerts.
Tags: concert, Memphis, Minglewood Hall, neko case, Sarah Harmer
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Last night I had the opportunity to see one of the biggest acts on the alt-country scene, a siren of the southern gothic soul, Neko Case, and it was a good show.
The concert took place at Minglewood Hall in midtown Memphis. Though there have been several shows there that I really wanted to see since it opened, this was my first trip to newest mid-size venue in the city. I was impressed with the place, especially when you compare it to other similarly sized spots in town like the New Daisy. It had two bars, along with rows or seating and tables in the back half of the room. I stood for the entire show, which isn’t that easy for someone used to spending their days in a cubicle, in the floor area in front of the stage. I had a great spot, probably only 15 feet or so from the stage and had a perfectly clear view for the entire evening. The crowd demographics were different from most concerts I have attended, with most audience members obviously in the 30 and over bracket, and many couples dancing together throughout the evening.
The opener, Sarah Harmer, came on stage around 8:00 for a 45 minute set, during which time the room steadily filled in anticipation for the main event. Harmer played the entire folk music set on her own with her guitar as the only accompaniment. Though I had never listened to her before (even though I think I recognized her from WEVL or something), I was quite impressed with her organic sound as she sang songs of nature and love and other normal folk music subjects. Though I was not that familiar with her, there were several people in the crowd who obviously were fans and they called out song titles to her several times, asking her to play their favorites. In response, she seemed genuinely touched and said in a surprised tone, “You know my stuff!” Then she did something that I have rarely seen at any type of concert. She played their requests and, though I did not know of her beforehand, I am now a definite fan. You just don’t see that kind of appreciation very often.
Truth be told, I didn’t recognize Neko Case when she came on the stage around 9:15. I guess the pictures I have seen of her on album covers and whatnot have her more made up, with her long, fiery red hair flowing out and dressed in something not so casual, at least more so than the t-shirt and jeans she was wearing last night. Her appearance was earthier than any pictures I had seen before, actually causing her to look like the woman well into her 30’s that she is. I don’t mean to harp too much on appearance, but it really did surprise me. Then the band kicked into the bluegrass-sounding opener “Things That Scare Me” and I didn’t worry about her appearance anymore. It was her golden, soaring voice that mattered and it soon had me in its tight embrace. As I mentioned in passing before, I generally think of her songs as a southern gothic style, with dark and macabre elements, but still retaining their pop sensibilities, and this transferred pretty well to a live format. She went through several numbers from her last three albums, including songs like “Maybe Sparrow,” “Prison Girls,” “Hold On, Hold On,” “That Teenage Feeling,” “This Tornado Loves You,” “Deep Red Bells,” “I Wish I Was the Moon,” and several others that I can’t recall off the top of my head. There were technical problems throughout the night that seemed to frustrate her at times and by the end of the show they had shut their monitors down and were playing, in her words, “campfire style.” She spoke to the audience a fairly good deal, but her backup singer conversed with everyone even more, especially at the times when the technical problems were being attended to. Another thing that became clear during the show was that Case is definitely a perfectionist, seeing that she stopped two songs during their intros because of tuning problems – which, I didn’t think were as bad as she did, but, hey, she’s the professional.
In all, I thought it was a good low-key sort of show and I was really happy to get the chance to see someone that I have been a big fan of for such a long time. If you ever get the chance, I would definitely recommend her.