So, I saw a show at a bar last night. It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve done that. Granted I was at the Hi-Dive a few weeks ago but that was as part of the UMS which also had me wandering and watch people play on rooftops and in parking lots. It was nice to get back to spending an evening in a nice small venue and just listening to the music. No wandering. No huge crowds, though the Hi-Dive was sold out which makes for a pretty decent number of people.. Just music and a small intimate venue. In a lot of ways I feel like the small venues are what this blog is really all about, without them I’d never be able to pull it off. I love Red Rocks and the Ogden and I don’t mind the Fillmore though I have yet to see a show there, but paying out $30-40 and maybe even more a show is just not doable when you’re trying to see as many shows as I am. The small venues make all this possible by bringing excellent music at less than $15 a show. Speaking of shows. I saw one, so I suppose I should tell you all about it.
I hate that my brain is always trying to categorize music. It seems like I can’t listen to music without my brain going “What is this, where does this fit in the myriad genres out there.” Because sometimes it’s distracting, especially when you’re ,listening to a band that flows in and out of eras and genres from one song to the next. That’s what Family of the Year did. The first song they played when they took to the stage sounded, to me, like The Partridge Family, or if not them then some other wholesome sing-songy family band from the 60s or 70s. It was incongruous as hell because they did not look wholesome, not that they looked unwholesome they just looked normal, but they sounded wholesome as hell. It was interesting and kind of fun and I prepared myself to settle in for something wholly unique. Then they shifted gears to synth infused rock. Then they shifted gears again.
The lead singer alternately sounded like Dylan, Tom Petty, and hell I don’t know, someone with a pretty voice. They just kept going like that for their entire set, moving from one genre to the next without ever really fusing them together, which would have been interesting to hear. Their lead singer was a subtly excellent guitar player and he really stood out, as I suppose a lead singer should. I felt like they were missing something though. In the end they sort of felt like a band that was a jack of all trades but master of none. Everything they played was good, and their last song flirted with being great, but overall they were just that. Good. Enjoyable but forgettable.
Shortly after these guys began their sound check it became apparent that a good portion of the crowd was actually there more to see River City Extension than Milo Greene. I was a bit surprised by this, partially because I’d never heard of Rivercity Extension and partially because I know that Milo Greene is experiencing a meteoric rise right now. Because of that big rise I just kind of assumed that everyone was there to see them. I was wrong, and I learned why after about half of a song from these guys. They started out simple and understated, it was good but not exceptional, then they hit the tempo change. About half way through the first, or maybe it was the second, song there was a temp change from a light folk song to this amazing passionate folk rock that just blew me away. At that moment the band came a live, the crowd became engrossed, and the show was stolen. I mean, I guess the show wasn’t officially stolen at that point they had certainly grabbed a hold of it and they were bound and determined not to let it go. And they didn’t. They never relinquished the show, even after they were gone the life and energy with which they had played resonated in the room.
They played every possible second that they could, ending the show by coming out into the crowd and just rocking it, dancing, stomping, clapping and playing amongst a crowd of adoring fans. I have a feeling that they may never have stopped if they hadn’t been played off. Yes, that right, the Hi-Dive literally played them off, like they were making a too long acceptance speech at the Oscars. One minute they were stomping and singing, the next horrible music was being blared through the speakers drowning them out. I get it, the venue has a schedule to keep but I really could have watched them all night long. It was simply an amazingly powerful performance. The kind of performance that makes me joint a bands mailing list so that I can be sure to never miss them again. I want to see them every single time they come to town, I want to hear everything they have recorded. I want to support them to make sure that they can continue making music. They were just that damn good. Seriously. I seem to always be imploring that you, faithful reader, go and see these bands that I see but seriously see these guys. See them right now if possible. You will be better for it.
Two songs by these guys, because they deserve it
One with just three members of the band:
And one with about three more than they had at the show:
It should be noted that just because River City Extension stole the show doesn’t mean that Milo Green was bad. No, they weren’t, in fact they were just as good as they were back when I saw them open for The Civil Wars a few months back. Their pure and simple talent was still present. Seemingly everyone played every instrument at some point, everyone sang. Their voices were just as beautiful as I remembered them being. They brought everything to the stage that made me want to see them again and had I not seen them a few months ago I’d be ranting and raving about how good they were. I did see them a few months ago though, and while the show was till really good it was also really really similar to the set that I saw them play at The Ogden. In fact it maybe have been the exact same set. They covered the same Sufjan Stevens song and played all of the songs on their album.
I understand that this is all they have right now. They’ve got one album and that’s what they have to pull from. Their album just came out a few weeks ago so they haven’t had time to add anything new to their repertoire. They also didn’t stray much, musically, from the recorded versions of the songs so there was no new life there. The songs were still good they were just, the same. You should still go see them because they are still a great band that puts on a great show. I just know that, personally, I’ll give them a little time before I go see them again. They need time to grow a bit and write some new things, maybe even change up some of what they already have. Again, it was a good set, and they are a very good, very talented band but in light of the act that they followed and the sameness of the set they just couldn’t own the show last night. You should probably still go see them though.
Because as you’ll see below they really are very good: