The Lone Bellow - This Brooklyn trio through way of Georgia and Virginia play guitars and mandolin and are accompanied by a rhythm section. It is easy to see that the star of this show is the three-part harmony created with one female and two male voices. Yes, it they do a magnificent job at that, but I keep thinking that if I want great vocal music, I would stay home and listen to Palestrina and Tallis like I have been doing a lot of lately. There just is not much going on musically to help get my interest up. The music is more country than alt, and has gospel roots showing as well. It is all pretty much 1-2-3-4 without variation or interesting tonal color. When the mandolinist sings, she brings a lounge blues quality out which is a nice diversion. But I am left with very little to grab hold of in this 50 minute set. Fortunately, the band was not listening to me and instead listened to very excited crowd who was having a great time before 8pm on a Wednesday night. So there is definitely something here for somebody.
Ivan and Alyosha - This show sold out so fast, that they added an early show which also sold out. I am not sure what the buzz is, aside from the always excellent work by their publicist, but this is one upbeat crowd. As in the prior set, it was great to see a crowd so into the music tonight, despite everything wrapping up before sundown. I went along more with the crowd this time, as this band was a bit more my style. They have three guitars going for many songs which was often one more than may have been needed, but careful listening revealed careful sounds well placed in these folky pop rock songs. There were vocal harmonies, but this time the lead vocalist carried more of the weight in leading the song. They did not quite hit the heights of the Decemberists or the Long Ryders, but when they nailed a song, they created some great music. There was even a song that sounded like Canned Heat trying to play a shoegaze version of a Sigur Ros song. Or maybe not, but they had some nice creative touches dancing in between some comfortably familiar sounds in their songs. And there was nothing cloying in this set, just clever music honestly coming out and pulling the listeners in. Obviously they will be in a bigger club the next time in town and they have the sound to handle all of that and more.
Quote of the Night: From the opener... "This is great, there are so many people tonight." Fill in your own ironic reply.