Monday, August 8th, 2005
The Dark Don't Hide It
There exists a cult of Jason Molina that I just don’t understand. I’ve heard both albums from Songs: Ohia and The Magnolia Electric Co and saw the latter live last October and while I enjoyed all of the above, the devotion I see from some his fans makes me wonder if I’ve missed out on something. With a guest list spot and a free evening this past Friday, I decided to give Mr Molina another go.
Having hit The Airfields show at the Cameron House earlier in the evening, I missed most of the openers – all of Jon-Rae Fletcher & The River (no biggie, seen them before, will surely see them again) and most of Grand Buffet. Grand Buffet were touring with MEC and have no doubt left a trail of bewildered and probably angry Molina fans in their wake. From the 10 minutes or so of their set that I caught, I can say they were truly an odd choice of opener. A two-man comedy/rap group along the lines of Tenacious D, I thought the bits I caught were pretty damn funny but I know a lot of the crowd hated them… which I suspect may have been partly the point.
Molina and co took the stage just after midnight and led off with “The Dark Don’t Hide It”, my favourite track off their latest album What Comes After The Blues and spent the next hour performing songs from both the Magnolia and Songs: Ohia repetoire. Perhaps fittingly, the best audience response came for songs from the transitional Magnolia Electric Co album that served as Songs: Ohia’s swan song. They were certainly my favourite songs in the set – “Farewell Transmission” was particularly excellent. While I was mostly indifferent to their last show at the Horseshoe, I enjoyed this one quite a bit more. The band seemed less jammy and more focused, but looser in a good way. I can’t help but wonder if maybe the six-piece band configuration is too much. With all due respect to the lead guitarist and keyboardist, I found myself thinking that maybe a four-piece with Molina, the lap steel player and rhythm section might have given the songs more space to breathe and stretch out. With the half-dozen players onstage, it seemed there was a little too much going on.
Oddly, the Electric Magnolias did not return for an encore not that I was complaining – it was pretty late, I was tired. So while enjoying the show, I still haven’t figured out what the faithful are seeing that I’m not. Molina is a wonderfully emotive singer and songwriter, and his band is very solid if a little heavy on the conventional Southern/roots rock tradition, but seeing the looks on the faces of some of the audience, it was obvious they were enjoying the show on a different level than I. And that’s fine, I don’t have to get it. I probably like stuff that would leave them scratching their heads too… Anyway, photos here. Every time I looked at Molina’s scarf, I just thought he looked like a terrier.
Bonus – Junkmedia also has part one of a two-part interview with Jason Molina about his philosophy of touring everywhere and anywhere.
The Postal Service finally has a website – just in time for the project to be put in mothballs while Ben Gibbard gets behind the wheel of the Death Cab. What took you so long, guys? At least they’ve got some downloads and videos to make the visit worthwhile. And they’ll happily sell you a t-shirt.
Mark Eitzel talks to Acting Now about the difference between actors and singers and how the professions should be mutually exclusive. And how he hates people in general. Looking way into the future, Eitzel has a new solo album due out this Fall (Candy Ass) a new American Music Club album is in the works with an eye towards release in March or April of next year.
np – American Music Club / Love Songs For Patriots