by John Miller
The Throwing Plates and Andrew Tufano - It was a homecoming of sorts for both opening acts, Throwing Plates (nee Jamie & James) and Andrew Tufano. The two are local to the area and at least three of the four players were coming home after touring the country this past summer. Other than the obvious (the vocalists) it was difficult to differentiate the two as once the Throwing Plates finished their set, Andrew Tufano swapped spots with Jamie, while James and bassist Doug remained. The two had a very similar sound and could be best described as something playing in the background as Katherine Heigl questions her romantic choices.
It isn't easy to be negative as both were so positive, but the music is so homogenized that there isn't really anything to say beyond sweeping generalizations. That's not to say that either were bad, far from it, musically they were very competent; vocals were nice, harmonies worked, bass held the rhythm, but it was so vanilla and saccharine. There is definitely a place for these two opening bands, but I am not too sure I necessarily want to travel there.
The Walking Guys - The Walking Guys have a gimmick. They walk to each of their shows; fairly straight forward, if not a little thin. Starting in Maine, the four have made their way south and hopefully they will reach their final destination, Tennessee, with everyone intact. I only say this because their choice of wardrobe leaves a little to be desired as far as safety is concerned. Clad in black t-shirts and dark jeans, this quartet looked like a backwoods Ramones. It didn't dawn on me until much later that while the black t-shirt is a timeless staple, these were probably being worn because it is much easier to hide the stains that have no doubt accumulated while on their adventure.
As I alluded to earlier, the Walking Guys have a gimmick and there was some trepidation on my part that they would be just that, a gimmick. As the show progressed those fears were alleviated as the four guys put on a particularly enjoyable set. In between songs, they shared stories from the road; everything from being sponsored by Saucony (their 'dad' shoes) to the very real fear of being murdered by a Celtic drum aficionado. I may not be the biggest fan of the singer songwriter genre, but they certainly were not as straight forward as the genre might suggest. The quartet played in a way that was new to me; Riders. Each would perform a song of their own compostion while the other performed limited backing duties (aside from Will Stevens who backed up each on his guitar) and once finished, they passed the guitar down and the next Walking Guy would repeat. The songs, while musically typical of the genre, were lyrically enjoyable to digest (especially those that revolved around pancakes). These four were telling stories throughout; inviting the audience to join them on their walkabout, as opposed to telling them everything is going to be just fine. Each had a distinctive voice. The one weak spot was Will's first song that sounded suspiciously like Bon Jovi's 'Wanted Dead or Alive'. But considering it was the first song he ever composed, I think we can all give him a pass. All kidding aside, these four were exceptional storytellers and I wish them safe travels to their final destination.
And of course there are more area shows within walking distance (the editor's bad joke here) including a DC show at Ebeneezer's Coffeehouse, this Thursday, September 3rd.