Monday, March 2, 2009
Alela Diane DUMBO Session, MHOW Show
UPDATE: You can download the entire show (including Alela) from the previous night @ Bowery via NYC Taper!
Saturday night found a stacked line-up at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, featuring Blitzen Trapper, Plants and Animals, and Alela Diane. We were most excited to see how Alela's lovely West-coast folk translated to the big stage, and weren't surprised at the more than successful results. Backed by her Dad (see video) and a full band of bass, drums and back-up singer, the set was a mix of ancient-sounding folk tunes, and a little too much modern-hippie crunchiness. The latter makes no appearance on Diane's fantastic new LP To Be Still, and was not enough to sink the overall feel of the set driven most by Diane's impeccable voice and mature songwriting. The show left us convinced that Diane is indeed the real deal (which we kinda already knew) and also with a healthy crush on fantastic back-up singer Alina Hardin. Sorry, had to say it. For our thoughts on Plants and Animals and the headliner Blitzen Trapper see after the jump.
Plants and Animals started off on shaky ground, debuting some new material and drawing on songs from their largely excellent LP, Park Avenue. There was something off-putting about lead singer Warren Spicer's stage presence (huge mustache?) but the musicianship of the mostly bass-less power trio was strong and precise. The second half of the set picked up considerably finding a soaring high during their best song "Mercy". The set ended on a low-note as P&A tended to lean on unnecessary jams and Spinal Tap-esqe prog stylings. To our dismay, they failed to close the evening with "Big Bottom."
Capping off a night of dichotomy, Blitzen Trapper varied between their country-rock image and their country-folk image. Lead singer Eric Earley made it clear Blitzen Trapper was the vehicle for his songs. Whether it was his larger than life on-stage ego, or his solo set mid-show, Earley was clearly the center piece of the evening. Yet, it just so happens that his songs and voice were damn good. The mid-show acoustic section proved the highlight, featuring the crowd pleaser "Furr" and the excellent murder ballad "Black River Killer" plus pseudo-traditional "Cocaine." The electric full-band tunes felt a few clicks shy of tempo - but were well executed and certainly fulfilling. Overall, we'd give Saturday night a "B." We would certainly see Alela Diane again, once was enough for Plants and Animals, and depending on circumstances, would make it out to another Blitzen Trapper show.