Saturday, May 15, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #23: Horse Feathers/Lay Low @ Black Cat, 5/6/10

Wanna know what makes my heart go pitter patter (the PG-rated edition)? Hows about the dreamy combination of enchanting Icelandic country and gorgeous Portlandian folk. And when it comes to both of those concepts, nobody does it better than Lay Low and Horse Feathers. Seeing the two of them was the best possible way to spend a Thursday night. It was almost too good to be true.

MINI RECAP: Lay Low = Adorably Countrified! Horse Feathers = Folktastically Fine! Overall score: A.


I love country music. I love Iceland. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined stumbling upon a great country singer from Iceland. But with Lay Low (given name: Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir), that’s exactly what I got. It might be an unwritten rule that Icelandic musicians are adorable and really talented, but Lay Low takes the cake. She’s a little bit sassy, a little bit feisty, and yet she’s also china-delicate. Her seven-song set was charming, interspersed with amusing, heavily-accented banter, and the songs themselves were bittersweet and smoky. Her inspiration, records filled with the songs of country legends of yore, is clear, and she does her foremothers and fathers proud. Her mix of plaintiveness and warmth creates a golden glow, straightforward songs laying her heart bare in a plucky, lovely way. The songs seem even more poignant, stripped down to just a gal and her guitar as opposed to the lushly produced sound of her record. I have to say, I found Lay Low to be a most pleasant surprise, and a perfect start to the evening.

Having been suitably warmed up, I was oh so excited for Horse Feathers. I was feeling particularly demanding, and these Oregonians stepped up to the plate in a most satisfactory way. I mean, you know when a band brings not only a violin but a cello onstage, they’re not fucking around. Horse Feathers are another one of those bands that elicit bucolic images of mist-encircled mountains, brilliant sunrises and heavenly, haunted dusks. Their music is as pure as that rarified country air that you can find in the middle of nowhere all over this fair land of ours. The place was packed, and it would have been a damn shame if it hadn’t been. In a rare feat, the band was so captivating that they actually managed to hush the mouths of the DC crowd, which is a pretty Herculean accomplishment. Seems I wasn’t the only one transfixed by the glorious noise.

“Curs In The Weeds” was particularly noteworthy, and not just because of the band’s sweet anniversary shout-out to a couple in attendance (and the subsequent declaration from someone in the crowd that “marriage is awesome!”). It was breathtaking, and every single soul in the room was hanging on every note.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I heartily encourage you to see Horse Feathers and Lay Low whenever you get the chance (as regards this current tour, that means you, Left Coasters). You won’t likely hear much prettier music, and that’s a fact.

mp3: Curs In The Weeds (Horse Feathers from House With No Home)

mp3: I Forget It’s There (Lay Low from Farewell Good Night’s Sleep)


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