The Loved Ones
Murder By Death
The Gaslight Anthem
9 September 2009
Bogarts, Cincinnati, Ohio
Bogarts Music Hall in Cincinnati always manages to draw strange crowds to their venue no matter what the show, and last night’s show with the Loved Ones, Murder By Death, and the Gaslight Anthem was no exception. A cross section of the crowd revealed the punks (fans of the Loved Ones), the nerds (the indie rock crowd of Murder by Death) and the hopeless romantics (the greasers there to see Gaslight and only Gaslight). It is, however, necessary to realise that there is always that one group that encompasses all three bands. Those few were the ones who made the show memorable.
The Loved Ones are always a treat to watch. Their fans are always crazy and energetic and into the set. With them, it’s easy for the band to turn a “big, ugly rock venue” into something more personal and intimate; you know, with pile ons, sing a longs, and general chaos. However big the venue, though, all three of the aforementioned activities will take place, especially at a loved ones show. In their short set, they managed to get everyone properly warmed up and ready for the rest of the show. Punk shows are always unpredictable, and last night was no exception. After much prodding from the band’s “brand new BFF”, they slipped Jane into their set. Now, anyone unfamiliar with the band, their catalogue, or their live shows knows that Jane is a staple in the setlist and it’s guaranteed to get everyone on or as close to the stage as possible. So, after much…suggesting…they started into the song. Their new BFF lead the charge in handclaps, right up until the point where the handclaps themselves become central to the bridge, and then he dropped it. In a bit of comedic relief, the band stopped their set and remarked with an “you’ve been doing so well through the whole set, singing a long and clapping and everything, but when it gets to the critical part…you LOST IT. We are no longer BFFS.” and then they launched into the end of the song. They did everything that a proper support band should do; they got people moving and even managed to get the cynics involved. It’s like the first five miles in a marathon, it’s hard and it’s fast and before you know it, you’re settling into a groove.
That groove, of course, came in the form of Murder By Death. In just a few short years, they have gone from the little band that was everyone’s best kept secret to a musical tour de force. They say that what does not kill you makes you stronger, and that’s certainly the case with this Bloomington, Indiana four piece. The past four years have seen them go through everything from a revolving cast of musicians to getting their van stripped on a day off in Cleveland, but from the looks of it, you would never know it. They have turned into a slick, well oiled machine. No one could have predicted how dangerously good this band has become. Drawing material for their setlist from each of their records, they hypnotised the audience with tales of wine, women, and personal demons with the biggest reactions coming in the form of Pillars of Salt and Killbot 2000. Most people are quick to compare vocalist Adam Turla to the late, great Johnny Cash. There definitely are similarities between the two musicians in terms of subject matter and the initial sound of their voices, but that’s where the comparisons end. The older Turla gets, the more full bodied his voice becomes. He is using his range to its full extent now, and it’s becoming his biggest asset. He deftly weaves tall tales and stories and all sorts of wonderous events together to form one very strange sonic landscape. Cellist Sarah Balliet provides him with the perfect accompaniment as her cello quickly takes on a life of its own. For close to an hour, it was a very delicate dance by both voice and cello. They weave in and out of each other’s notes, creating a sonic tapestry to palatial that it belied the four walls of the club. One would be inclined to same thing if they were playing the same show in an arena, for the scope of the music cannot be encased into four walls and a roof. It will be interesting to see what kind of a direction the band chooses to go in the coming years.
Finally, it was time for the Gaslight Anthem to take the stage. A quick set change and the houselights were taken down. Before too long, the stage was awash in cobalt lights. Unassumingly, the band walked out, picked up their instruments, and barrelled into their set. Opener High and Lonesome got the energy going and it didn’t let up until the very last notes of Say I Won’t Recognise. Sonically, they had a flawless set. Technically, however…that was a different story. Just after Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, the entire backline cut out. What was a bit of a technical difficulty for the band was a treat for us. Being the true punk rock warrior he is, singer Brian Fallon took matters into his own hands. He said [paraphrasing, of course], “it isn’t a punk show if something doesn’t go wrong, and it’s not a punk show unless we fix things ourselves, so here goes nothing.” At that, he broke into a flawless acoustic rendition of ’59 Sound. By the middle of the song, the backline was fixed, and Brian addressed the song as, “Well, that’s better. Now where were we?” The rest of the band picked up, punk rock style, right where Brian had left off. The rest of the set was played with reckless abandon, as if they hadn’t a care in the world. It’s always refreshing to see a band have fun when they play. It makes me less of a rock cynic. They truly played as though they wanted to be there and not because that was the venue that they were booked in that night. I truly believe that if only one person had shown up instead the close to 1100 that did that night, they would have still played in the same way, with the same veracity, and with the same gusto as they did last night. Please don’t lose that, ever.
Old White Lincoln
Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
’59 Sound (slow intro, Brian solo, Technical difficulties)
We Came to Dance
Miles Davis –> What Becomes of the Broken Hearted
The Patient Ferris Wheel
Stand By Me –> I’da Called You Woody Joe
Angry Johnny and the Radio
Here’s Lookin at You Kid
Blue Jeans and White T-Shirts
Say I Won’t (Recognise) –> Kiss by Prince