by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
If last night’s sold out The Head and the Heart show at The Waiting Room taught us anything, it’s that in this age of endless “vibe” bands, people are thirsting for songs that they can sing to.
I mean, seriously, who wants to sing along to Animal Collective or Toro Y Moi or Neon Indian or Girls or Grizzly Bear or even St. Vincent? The current wave of indie is more about setting a mood than songwriting. So when a band like The Head and the Heart comes along and creates simple songs with simple lyrics about simple things like love and loss and longing — all sung to super catchy choruses and refrains — well, people just can’t help themselves but join in. And that’s exactly what they did during last night’s show.
The six-piece band was joined by a chorus of a few hundred who sang along to almost every song, sounding like a warm ocean lapping gently on the shores of the band’s acoustic folk. I haven’t heard so much singing since Dashboard Confessional circa 2003, only these songs weren’t cheesy heartbreak anthems sung by children. Instead the crowd was mostly in their mid-20s, with more women mixed in than I’m used to seeing at typical indie rock shows. Credit the nature of their music, which is more soothing than rousing, though it had its moments of exultation.
I leaned over and asked one music pro in the crowd if this was the coming of the next Arcade Fire. He said more like the next Mumford and Sons. I think they meet somewhere in between, with enough modern touches to please Arcade fans, and those song-along choruses for the Mumford crowd (but, thankfully, without the brogue and side order of Gouda). Where they go next is anyone’s guess, but who knows what happens after they perform on Letterman Oct. 28.
By the way, word going ’round last night before the show was that the band had a little meltdown the night before in Minneapolis, where one of the guitarists/vocalists walked off stage in anger, forcing the band to finish without him. Maybe last night was a “healing set” for them.
I said last week that we wouldn’t be hearing my favorite song from the new Fizzle Like a Flood record, “Cutters,” performed at the CD release show as it was recorded. And I was right. Instead, we got a Pixies version of “Cutters” played by Doug Kabourek’s other band, At Land. As much as I enjoyed hearing acoustic Fizzle Like a Flood, the revved up and rocking version was more fun.
When he’s out there with just his guitar, Kabourek channels John Darnielle a.k.a. The Mountain Goats, though Doug’s songs are less story telling and more emoting from the heart. When he’s behind the drum set with At Land, Kabourek pushes the songs closer to territory heard on records, though nothing can compare to those multi-tracked marvels. Despite that, my favorite moment of Friday night’s CD release show, played to only about 20 people at The Barley Street, was Doug solo singing “Believe in Being Barefoot” from his watershed release, Golden Sand and the Grandstand, an album that has still yet to get its due.
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It’s going to be a very tiring week for yours truly and anyone else who loves going to rock shows. It started last night, it continues tonight with Melt Banana at The Waiting Room with openers InDreama and Flesh Eating Skin Disease. $12, 9 p.m.
Then it’s Smashing Pumpkins tomorrow, Portugal. The Man Wednesday, The Matt Bowen Benefit Thursday, and MEN (members of Le Tigre) on Friday. I’m going to need an IV drip to make it through work this week…
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2011 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.