Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: Manchester Orchestra, White Denim, Dear Hunter; Late Night Pick of the Night: Vince Gill

A quick review of last night's Manchester Orchestra, White Denim, Dear Hunter show at The National.  Dear Hunter came on first and definitely led the night in beard quality with lead singer Casey Crescenzo's Zach Galafanaikis appearance and bassist Nick Sollecito channeling JEB Stuart's beard.  Dear Hunter featured a relentless (but in a good way) triple guitar attack that gave their songs a psychedelic edge.  Think the last few minutes of The Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" which they ended their set with.  I also heard elements of Arcade Fire, Death Cab for Cutie, My Morning Jacket & Smashing Pumpkins.  The keyboardist also added some swirling elements and interesting touches that added depth and variety to the songs.  I enjoyed these guys.

Next up was my find of the night, White Denim from Austin.  I loved these guys.  They had a maximum R&B/blues feel but it wasn't straight-forward blues.  It was the blues was filtered through punk and prog.  The songs were streteched out as if jamming but the sharp rhythm changes could definitely not have been unrehearsed.  However, the tempo changes didn't feel forced.  In my conversation after the show with the bassist, he said they were about 95% rehearsed and about 5% improv, primarily on the solos.  The rhythm section, bassist Steve Terebecki (who, with his thick black-framed glasses, looks like the 12 year old geek from every 80's pre-teen movie) and drummer Joshua Block locked in thunderously, calling to mind The Who at times.  The guitarists, James Petralli & Austin Jenkins, could play clean, classic rock style solos and also fuzzed up, distorted harsh Chicago blues.  Influences that I heard were White Stripes, early Steve Miller Band, Minutement, firehose and maybe even, moe., and they even locked in a groove with an African beat for a while.  I think I asked the bassist two or three times to come back to Richmond when they have a chance and if they do, you are all coming with me to see them.

Finally, the headliner, Manchester Orchestra, who, for me, was the most disappointing band on the bill.  Every tune seemed to follow the same soft/loud/soft/loud pattern with little variation.  While they did that well, the lack of any curve balls (except one humorous slower song which I beleive was about courting a Hollywood actress or perhaps stalking her) led to the show feeling repetitive.  The keyboardist had a second drum kit behind him that he played on occassion nd rather than adding some counterrhythms to the music, he played exactly the same thing as the main drummer, making it louder but not necessarily better.  The crowd was definitely into them the most, headbangin' when the loud parts of the songs came on, but there never seemd to be that explosion when the band and the crowd lock in.  I did enjoy the personable and funny lead singer Andy Hull who kept things light in between songs. 

Tonight's Late Night Pick of the Night is country singer-guitarist Vince Gill on Jimmy Kimmel on ABC at midnight.  Vince will be coming to Richmond soon (12/9 to be exact) for a Christmas concert with his wife, Amy Grant.