Wednesday, June 14th, 2006
Sing Songs Along
Sunday night, my fourth show in four nights. Surely something low-key and relaxing to wind out the weekend? Not so much. No, instead it was Tilly & The Wall and a Mod Club full of hepped-up under-agers. Woot!
Opener and fellow Team Love-r David Dondero’s country-folk sounds midwestern to a fault, which is strange since he actually hails from San Francisco via Austin. He also sounds like what I suspect is an ever-growing generation of songwriters who really do hold Conor Oberst in higher regard than, oh, anyone, often apeing his pinched, emo-wounded vocal delivery and verbose lyrical style. I arrived a little late so I didn’t see the full set, but I saw enough to figure what he was about and wasn’t especially impressed or offended.
I’d said before that I feared what a full Tilly set would do to my blood sugar levels, but to my pleasant surprise I lasted the whole hour and change without slipping into a diabetic coma. While the slower numbers didn’t necesarily play to the band’s strengths (all comments about David Dondero’s voice apply triply to Derek Pressnall), they did offer a much-needed dynamic shift in the set and more importantly, gave Jamie Williams a chance to rest up between tap dances. She must surely be the fittest person in indie rock and comes off tour in better shape than when she starts. Kianna Alarid and Neely Jenkins have also got strong and distinctive voices that sound great either in harmonies or solo. They’re like a PG-13 Disney afterschool special (they cuss!) but there’s no denying their ability to write hooky pop songs and put on a fun show. It’s easy to write them off as a novelty/gimmick band but that’s lazy and inaccurate. They’re actually very good at what they do and are incredibly, overwhelmingly and frighteningly happy and positive.
As I mentioned, I arrived a little late so I must have missed when they handed out the Kool-Aid to the kids (all-ages, remember) but whatever they put in it, it worked as the audience was enthralled and screamed like they were seeing the Beatles at Shea. I’d wondered before why they had been booked into the large-ish Mod Club when I knew their audience wasn’t large enough to fill it, but Mod is one of the few all-ages venues in the city and without the kids, I wager it would have been a much smaller and quieter show. But as it was, the chemistry between the band and audience was perfect and the band definitely saw and appreciated the love. Of course, it also seemed like their fans would have gone out and killed if Tilly had commanded it. Our nation’s youth, in the thrall of sunshiney tap-dancing cultists. They may well be the most subversive band in America. Think about it.
And apparently Natalie Portman was in attendance. For reals.
Photos are here. Daytrotter has a profile of Tilly and co and Dose talks to Kianna while Pitchfork gives Bottom Of Barrels a rather positive review. Tilly has a MySpace and so does Dondero. You can listen to the whole of Bottom Of Barrels here or just grab an MP3.
M Ward will be at the Mod Club on September 11 to promote his new album Post-War, which is out August 22. You can hear the first track from the record – a Daniel Johnston cover with Neko Case on backing vox – courtesy of Tripwire, who also have the other tour dates. I don’t know if this is a solo tour or full band, but having caught him as the former last February, I will attest that he’s as arresting a solo performer as I’ve ever seen. NPR also has a new track to preview.
Some great stuff from La Blogotheque who have an ongoing series called Concert A Emporter where videographer Vincent Moon records artists performing songs in the streets, in the woods, wherever. A couple of recent ones include Neil Halstead of Mojave 3 in an apartment complex (link) and Will Sheff of Okkervil River in the woods (link). Great stuff.
np – Dirty On Purpose / Hallelujah Sirens