Live Review: It’s True emerges; Oberst does Letterman, again…

Category: Blog — @ 5:54 pm July 7, 2009

I’ve been trying to write this for the past couple of days. I’ve rewritten it three times. What can I say, I’ve been busy. Yesterday instead of writing the blog entry, I was writing a feature on The Rural Alberta Advantage, which you’ll see right here on Thursday. And this week’s column is a celebration of the Worlds of Wayne podcast, where I was the “special in-studio guest” for its 100th episode. That column will be online tomorrow and the podcast will be up at worldsofwayne.com on Friday (if Wayne gets his editing shit together).

Which brings me back to last Saturday night and It’s True. I wasn’t expecting much of a crowd. It being the Fourth of July and all, I figured most people would be home minding their bandages and burnt fingers and early-evening hangovers. Instead there was a sizable crowd at The Waiting Room — my guesstimate, around 150 — there to see Little Brazil but also there for It’s True, who rarely plays shows these days (whereas LB seems to play somewhere every other week).

There’s been a buzz about Adam Hawkins for the past year that’s been simmering just below the surface. He’s been the “It band” for singers, songwriters and musicians “in the know” since last summer. Now interest in Hawkins and his music is starting to eke out to the rest of the Omaha music scene. The timing couldn’t be better. I’ve seen a few incarnations of It’s True, but the one on stage last Saturday night was the apex — a solid, huge-sounding ensemble that’s pushed its way to the top of the list of Omaha’s unsigned bands (and it’s quite a list).

The set list included material from It’s True’s debut that came out on Slo-Fi earlier this year. That album was essentially a Hawkins solo record. Last Saturday’s set fleshed out those songs to epic proportions, where they deserve to be. Hawkins had talked about holding off on that first album until he could “do the songs right.” He did the right thing by releasing it when he did, but now he needs to rerecord it with this band, and let the games begin. If there’s a local band that belongs on Saddle Creek, it’s these guys. They fill a niche that resides between the songwriting angst of Tim Kasher and the pastoral elegance of Bright Eyes (who we haven’t seen the last of, yet). Kasher has a history of taking local bands out on the road with him. The most recent example is cave pop superstars Box Elders, who are currently tethered to a rocket pointed straight to the upper stratospheres of garage rock stardom, fueled by a tour that lasts through August and ends at Goner Fest in Memphis Sept. 26. As good as Box Elders are, It’s True would be an even better opening band for Cursive since its style of music compliments Cursive’s more recent outings, which are heavier on songwriting than teeth-gnashing noise.

In honor of the holiday, It’s True ended its set with a rendition of the national anthem, an American flag draped over Hawkins’ back. It was a lead-in to a cover of Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” that was sloppy and diabolical. By mid-song, the flag fell from Hawkins’ slumped shoulders where it was kicked around on stage (intentionally or not). Afterward, someone asked me what I thought. “Looks like there’s a new sheriff in town,” I said. (See photo).

Following that, Little Brazil had its work cut out for them, and they met the challenge with another over-the-top set that featured a clean-shaven Landon Hedges once again looking like the second-coming of Bobby Brady. If there’s a band that needs to get out on the road for two months, it’s these guys. Let’s hope a tour is in the works.

* * *

In case you missed it, Conor Oberst and his crazy hat (along with the Mystic Valley Band) were on The Late show with David Letterman last night singing a rather flat version of “Spoiled” from Outer South. Not his/their best performance, but then again, this isn’t one of his/their better songs, either. Check it out on YouTube.

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