Opening the night was the Temporary Thing with a set that offered pleasant and promising music with very little energy. It doesn't help that three of the four band members played the set sitting down. The music, though, is good if a bit simple and safe. Some of the songs, while pretty, also suffered for sounding too much like older, better songs. One song started off like "Hotel California" and another sounded like Roy Orbison's "Crying." Still, the songs were tight and pretty, and the lead singer, Andrew Gleason, has a voice that reminded me of David Gray's pinched soulfulness. Also, what seemed like a gimmick of having their drummer drum on a wooden box actually worked well, but it also pointed out how simple the songs were. Simple but good.
I had seen Irving several times, and while I liked some of their songs, I was never a big fan. Every time I saw them, though, I was mesmerized by their beautiful, quiet bassist. He would stoically stand off to the side, play, and contribute backing vocals. Maybe it was because I wasn't as enthralled by the music that I found distraction in their bassist.
However, my fascination may also be justified because as Sea Wolf, Alex Brown Church--the bassist in question--creates folk-pop songs with a sensitive, wounded feel. It reminds me of Timothy Hutton from Ordinary People minus the suicidal tendencies. I saw Sea Wolf during their residency last year at Spaceland. Their songs, so intimate and often quiet, don't always work on the concert stage but the delivery and sincerity carries them through. They really work better heard through headphones in the stillness of your room. The live setting, though, offers other rewards like the charm of seeing Church catch himself mess up the lyrics to "Middle Distance Runner." The more rocking songs like "You're a Wolf" and "Black Dirt" also got the crowd swaying.
Sea Wolf signed with Dangerbird Records and should have an LP coming out this September. It's already one of my most eagerly awaited debuts of the year.
What's there to be said about the Little Ones that hasn't been said before? Their shows are joyful celebrations that always leaves me feeling giddy afterwards. They've grown stronger as performers. The recent European tour they were on certainly sharpened their skills. The show featured several new songs, and my favorite is a song that I'll call "Isolation." Like their best stuff, the song is marked by Greg Meyer's insanely propulsive drumming. Here's a band that just gets better and better, delivering great shows and great music each time I see them. They're certainly going to be big.