Review: American Catastrophe with In the Pines

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Photo courtesy of Todd
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Saturday night I hopped in my scary car, popped in a country mix CD and headed down the highway to Lawrence Kansas (which was quite depressed last night after the big KU loss) to go see two great bands - In the Pines (whom I've written about before) and American Catastrophe (whom I tragically haven't written about yet...) at the Bottleneck with some DJ work by the man known as Robert Moore.

I've seen both bands before on a bill with another band called The New Tragedies (you'll hear about them soon...) and the first time I was just so immensely impressed with both, In the Pines especially. So I was super excited to see both again.

First, Robert may have singlehandedly convinced me to make sure my radio still works and turn it on. I turned it off for the last time about 3 years ago because the music was so terrible, but last night Robert was spinning everything from Jerry Reed to Love to Peter Bjorn and John. I think I enjoyed the music he played nearly as much as the live music. It made a lot of sense to have Robert there because he is the man behind the new local record label Oxblood Records, whose first signees were American Catastrophe.

And second, I gotta say going to shows alone is not very fun. But on the other hand, I took a notebook with me and got a tom of leg work done for some future posts here. I could hear people behind me saying, "Yeah, so he's definitely a writer, but who does he write for?" I got a kick out of that.

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Yup, that's from the notebook...

First up were In The Pines. The setlist was culled almost in its entirety from their self-titled record - the lone hold out was "How to Love Her" from the Oxblood Records comp "First Blood." It really added a new dimension into the set with the handclaps and great lead riff. "Dress on Fire" and "Never Say Too Much" closed out the set and they rippled with an enthusiasm and energy that was missing thru the rest of the set. The rhythm section boomed forward and carried them with the strings skittering atop the acoustics. The sounds were so delicate at times that you had to pay close attention not to miss the subtleties. I'm normally not okay with bands sitting while they play, but frankly, I'm worried for frontman Brad Hodgson - one of these days that chair is gonna fall apart as he rocks back and forth and nearly jumps out of it. And while we're on the subject of Brad, it has to be said that he doesn't really look like a typical front man - he's skinny, balding and unshaven and looks like he may work in the back room of your local guitar shop. But jeez - half the time he didn't ever have to sing into the microphone to get his voice out.

And then, after more Robert Moore and more notebook writing came American Catastrophe (AmCat). First it needs to be said - Shaun Hamontree is one beautiful man. All of the intimidating 6'5 of him. With a voice that sounds like a cross between Jay Munly and Tom Waits, he writhes and jukes in his chair while pushing out some of the greatest music that has one foot in rock, one in blues, a hand in folk and a pinky finger in post-rock. As good as their album is, its no comparison to seeing them live. Their set seemed perfect in the dim, somehow smoky without allowing smoke venue. The new tunes fit in perfectly amongst the ones from their recently re-released "Excerpts from the Broken Bone Choir". The themes of murder juxtaposing with and odd romanticism are continuing on (as well as I could tell from the lyrics). All in all, I can't wait to see what new stuff AmCat will be pushing forward on Oxblood.

These are the same songs from before, but if you haven't listened yet, trust me, it's time:
Dress On Fire
Never Say Too Much
And you can pick up the record here.

And one from AmCat:
Broken Bone Choir

And you can pick up the Oxblood Records comp "First Blood" here.

And my freaking goodness - does EVERYONE need to link to Arcade Fire's takeaway show!?


Blogger Happy In Bag said...

Nice job, psycho.

2:41 PM  

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