Thursday, October 28, 2010 at Lava Lounge
I'd only seen one show at the Lava Lounge prior to this one and, interestingly enough, that was also a Big Hurry show (back in August 2009: Big Hurry, Landline, Nik Westman & the Central Plains). I recall thinking, at the time of that first show, that I was in the bowels of a volcano and had trouble seeing the musicians. Since then, I've been back to the Lava Lounge and its bowely volcano-ness many times (spelling bee on Monday nights, w00t!) and based on that reconaissance, I was sure to snag a front row spot for the musicians this time around; that way, I could see and hear everyone really well. I'm glad I did; there were three sets of music from three bands/musicians with markedly different styles and it was super cool to see them up close.
First up was Lauren Zettler. I'd actually heard/seen her name before somehow via the whole Allison Weiss / Bess Rogers / Lelia Broussard / Jenny Owen Youngs / etc. female singer-songwriter circuit that I've kinda fallen into lately, much to my own (and others', I suppose) surprise, but they've all been pleasantly surprisingly enjoyable for me. I hadn't heard or seen LZ before, but roughly knew what to expect based on her association with the above group, and I was quite pleased with the result. Her voice is incredible, I have to say, and the guitar stylings were a nice deviation from the usual "girl with an acoustic guitar belting out tunes about love" kinda deal, especially since she had another electric guitarist along with her, and he was really good. Lauren would sing her heart out and play the main chords on her acoustic guitar, and the other guy would fill in some great solos and such with his electric guitar. It was really solid and tight and lovely and endearing and everything else wonderful. I do look forward to hearing her songs again, somehow. (Download a live set of hers in L.A. here.) Here's a video of her playing "Out Of My Mind" live in NYC in September 2010:
Second up was The Slow Reel, a.k.a. "the Pittsburgh band formerly known as Small Cities". I think I'd seen their old name tossed around the blogosphere, but didn't really know their music. Based on this one set, I think it's safe to say they play in a kind of 70s Southern-roots rock revival style reminiscent of bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tom Petty (especially since they played the intro to "In The Air" during their sound check, and I found them playing the full cover version during a set on the WYEP Third Thursday's podcast; download that entire set here and subscribe to the podcast while you're at it). The lead singer was the male bassist, interestingly enough, and there were two female backup vocalists, one of whom played keyboards (but she looked completely bored the whole time, as Jim pointed out, which was kinda weird). Then there was a lead guitarist and a drummer, making for five band members crowded onto the main volcano platform. I enjoyed their songs, all originals (I believe, save for the sound check), and they fit into a nice genre niche that doesn't seem to be addressed by other Pgh bands. The singer did some funny- and fancy-looking toe-tapping dance moves along with the songs, and he said the word "pants" over and over to do the sound check. Funny. And he had a sweet beard. Here's a video of them playing at Howlers earlier this year:
Third up was Big Hurry. I've seen them a handful of times now, and I'm always impressed. Every set is pretty tight and controlled, never too sloppy (not to say they don't have fun onstage; I think I saw a missed intro or something at this show and the guitarist was laughing it off with the others), and their songs are just so damn good. Dani's drumming is incredible, Andy's guitar solos are beauteous, and with Lenny's bass lines they form a perfect backdrop for Kelly's voice. They played a couple of new numbers at this show, so I'm definitely looking forward to a new release from them in the near future. Here's a video of one of those new songs from the show. Audio quality isn't great, sorry:
The Slow Reel