Our joint reviews seem to elicit a disproportionately large (read: any) response from our readership, so we're back at it again. The Rockist Society members went to the Rock and Roll Hotel on Tuesday night to check out The Broken West (again) and the Long Winters. Here are our thoughts:
GH: I hope I'm not stealing everyone's thunder by being the first to claim this as the best show we've seen this year. Or to be more specific, the best headlining set. The Broken West did not impress me. I really like a number of their songs, but they are sorely lacking in charisma and stage presence. Which became only more glaring when the Long Winters had it in spades. Lead singer John Roderick is one of the few indie band leaders to seem genuinely enthused about playing live and taking his songs on the road. And what excellent songs they are too -- lots of good lyrical nuggets (my favorite is from "Hindsight", their penultimate song of the proper set: "But I'm bailing water and bailing water / 'Cause I like the shape of the boat"), soaring voices, ample guitar. Maybe a couple of the piano songs dragged on a little (I never really liked "Blue Diamonds") but other than that, no room for complaints. The Long Winters just got themselves invited to one of year's most elite parties: an entry in my facebook "favorite music" section. Congratulations.
Rob: Still feeling betrayed by the cancellation of Field Music on Saturday, I was looking for solace in The Broken West. Unfortunately, they didn’t supply that. Although they did play “Hale Sunrise,” it definitely didn’t stack up to their last show with The Walkmen.
Feeling a little dejected and a little drunk, I hoped that The Long Winters could fill the void in my soul. I now have a new favorite band…
Looking like a Jim Henson creation with his mustache and long sideburns, John Roderick immediately drew a smile on my face with permanent marker. I am in awe of his presence. As G.H. points out, he does look like he’s having an amazing time onstage. Throwing his head back while he turns his drawn out “R”s, you can’t help but fixate on him. I don’t know much about their music since I only own The Worst You Can Do Is Harm, but my favorite song was definitely “Shapes.” The main riff sounds like something you’d hear at a moe. concert. I loved everything they played, even though I only recognized 3 of the songs. Fantastic.
G.L: While I love the Long Winters, I had relatively modest expectations for their show at RnR. Being a big fan of their albums, I figured it was probably worth the 12 bones to see 'em live, especially because they were playing with another Rockist favorite, the Broken West. I didn't think the Broken West were as poor as GH and Rob seem to suggest, but I do think they suffered from crappy sound and some unfortunate equipment problems. Speaking of sound, the RnR - though still a toddler in the DC music scene - has already earned a reputation for spotty sound. But apparently they got things figured out by the time John Roderick and friends took the stage because the Winters sounded excellent.
And back to the Long Winters. They were great - the aforementioned banter was entertaining, they sounded crisp, and, hey, they've got some pretty great songs. They played some of my personal favorites including "Carparts" from their underrated debut, The Worst You Can Do Is Harm. Unfortunately for me they also played one of my least favorite songs...ever. "Cinnamon" might be the worst song I've ever heard. Seriously, after three and a half minutes of "...her skin is cinnamon, her skin is cinnamon..." ad nauseum, I think I have diabetes. But whatever. One blemish on an otherwise awesome set is fine by me. Set closer "(It's A) Departure" brought the house down with one of my favorite stanzas in recent memory, "I like the old days/but not all the old days/only the good old days", with everyone in the place screaming the last line. Let's hope they come back soon.