Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Live Review: Shearwater, 6/17/07

Download: Shearwater - "Ella Is The First Rider"
Download: Shearwater - "Red Sea Black Sea"
Download: Shearwater - "Room For Mistakes"
Download: Shearwater - "An Accident"

I first fell in love with Okkervil River when I saw them opening for the Decemberists a couple years back. And, as the river to the ocean goes, Okkervil led me to Will Sheff and Jonathon Meiburg's other band, Shearwater.

Where Okkervil had previously been the more popular Sheff/Meiburg band, this year belongs to Shearwater. They signed to Matador in February, and last year's much-lauded Palo Santo hit shelves in a re-recorded, repackaged, remastered, expanded version in May (For new fans, the extended edition is a good buy because it has bonus material. For those of you who have the album, maybe not so much, though the extended edition on vinyl is pretty sweet).

It's an awesome record, which afforded me an equally awesome chance to check them out on Wednesday night. The show opened up with Minus Story opened up the show. I hadn't heard of them before, but they reminded me a whole lot of Minneapolis' own Aneuretical. It might be the homesickness talking, as I've never been a big Aneuretical fan, but they sounded fantastic. At least until about halfway through the set when they went all soft-rock on me, which totally killed their momentum (Incidentally, the only songs they have up on their myspace are the aforementioned momentum-killers. The Minus Story was in Minneapolis last night (Monday the 25th), but they're well-worth checking out the next time they swing by.

Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu fame followed up the set with some of the most confusingly awesome folk music I've heard in a while. I was kind of worried about his set, because I either love Xiu Xiu or hate them, depending on my mood. I'm pleased to report that Stewart's solo set was a head and shoulders above anything he's done with Xiu Xiu. He blended the earnest strummings and lyrical simplicity of Woody Guthrie with intensity not normally heard in folk music. Stewart's brand of folk was vulnerable, quivering and beautiful.

And Shearwater. I just don't know what to say. They were perfect. Honestly, every note was right on time, every instrumental flourish was placed in exactly the right place and Meiberg's operatic, Bauhaus-esque voice reverberated powerfully at exactly the right moments. I had never seen a band that performed so perfectly and put forth such a powerful front before I saw Shearwater. And the best thing about them was that they didn't seem pompous as really artsy, dramatic bands can. Quite the contrary, they were all very animated and clearly having a great time. They're winding down their tour now, but definitely put Shearwater on your list of bands to see.

(April Wright)

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