Thursday, November 26, 2009

Devandra Banhart & the Grogs / Dorothy and the Originals - 9:30 Club - Nov 25 2009

Dorothy and the Originals - A one woman show. She has a microphone and a macintosh. The mac pretty much runs what sounds like a click track with electronic claps which got a little annoying. She had backing vocals recorded and sang a strong lead. She ran through a song cycle about breaking up with a guy as much as I could tell. Daring, original and not overly exciting.  Decent enough and certainly fitting at a Devandra Banhart show. Turns out, this is Dorothy's first show ever, so lots of extra credit points for bringing it off.

Devandra Banhart & the Grogs - The unofficial leader of the freak folk movement is in town again with long time guitarist Noah Georgeson and a rhythm section and additional guitarist. They began with a series of folk-rock outings done in a California desert pop style with reggaeesque guitar moves. I was actually a bit disappointed as the California style of Jackson Browne and Gram Parsons was outweighing the usual Banhart inventions. The band took a break and Banhart played six songs solo or with a couple of guys on percussion. The magic began. His guitar style is something I think I had taken for granted, but it is really excellent. It is easy to want to put him aside with all the media hype he has had (and has deflected a bit), but I have enjoyed his work from the beginning. His early solo work is very Marc Bolan of the Tyrannosaurus Rex period (far different than T.Rex). He played early cuts like "Little Yellow Spider" and the updated Bolan style was excellent. I was fully pulled in during this session. I almost regretted seeing the band return, but they played more eclectic rock, folk and even jazz variations then on. Since this was a band, Banhart turned over a song to each member with one of his own in between. The drummer's song rocked the most. The least interesting was the new guitarist's song and I am not sure he really added much during the evening truth be told. When they hit a groove, they were brilliant such as their buddies Vetiver or old-timers Canned Heat could hit. None of these bands are my favorite until they really nail that psyche-rock groove. Nice build to a great finish.

Quote of the Night:  As I wandered home from another patron - "Why didn't he say 'by the way, we're not doing that encore shit.'" Good point. They left the house lights down a bit for people to clap, then turned them up and started music. They played an hour and forty minutes, so there was no cheating there. I really respect the explanation The Wedding Party gives early in their shows that they have never played a request and don't do the cliched encores. Either play the game or make it clear what your intent is.

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