Ok. Yes. I should have posted this sooner. But to be honest I've been having trouble putting it all into words.
On Tuesday night we, along with 600 hundred or so of our closest friends, were treated to an evening of music that holds no equal in recent memory. The Cat's Cradle was packed to the gills for a mini-Mergefest: Portastatic; Lambchop and M. Ward. I doubt I could ever muster the words to aptly describe the awe, excitement and pride I felt as I watched these three bands put on performances that simply had my mind, my body, my heart and my soul reeling. It was one of those nights you never forget. One of those nights that helps remind me why I do what I do.
Portastatic kicked things off in high form with Mac and Margaret doing stripped down versions of songs old and new alike. But soon they were joined onstage by a revolving cast of musicians that seemed to turn each successive song into it's own little universe. M. Ward finished the night off with an incredibly rocking set that had my jaw on the floor. I had the same reaction the first time I saw Matt onstage, alone with his guitar, 4 years ago. This time the tenor and energy was completely different, but no less engaging, as he and his stunning band ripped and roared through a set that seemed to leave the crowd exhausted but elated, wringing every ounce of energy from the room.
Both Portastatic and M. Ward were stunning and either set on their own would have been in the top 5 shows I've seen all year. But the main purpose of my post here today is to try to tell you about Lambchop, whose performance on this night was so powerful that I almost found myself moved to tears...
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You almost never know what you are going to get in a Lambchop performance. How many people are going to be onstage? (I've seen performances with anywhere from 5 to 18 band members) Will it swing you like an R&B revival, or sooth you like a lullaby? Will Kurt Wagner actually stand up at some point (I've seen this happen exactly twice in 13 years)? The one constant always seems to be the quality of the performance. On this cool September evening in Carrboro, NC they managed to exceed already high expectations.
Tuesday's performance featured 8 Choppers, with the Tosca String Quartet bringing the total number of musicians on the crowded Cat's Cradle stage to 12. The thing that always amazes about Lambchop is that all those people can blend so seamlessly together, presenting layer upon layer of sound that draws you in as you try to enjoy every intricate nuance, every flourish. Playing a healthy dose of songs from Damaged, as well as digging into the treasure chest for a few golden nuggets, the band was tight and on point all night long. The Tosca String Quartet added a dimension that we don't always get here in the States but that European audiences have probably grown spoiled by. I know I could get spoiled by it in a hurry.
All in all I can't recall a more powerful night of live music in my recent experience.
Lambchop is heading through the northeast this weekend with shows tonight in Boston (Paradise Club), tomorrow night in Montreal (Le National) and Sunday night in Toronto (Mod Club).
Portastatic ends their stint opening for M. Ward with shows tonight in Denton, TX (Haileys) and tomorrow night in Austin (The Parrish), while M. Ward heads westward on the final leg his tour.
Me? I'm off to see Richard Buckner / Eric Bachmann tonight, and will probably get blown away all over again.
If you have the chance to check out any of these shows in the next week or so, I couldn't recommend them more.