Wednesday, May 19, 2010

100 Shows of 2010 - #24: These United States/The Mother Hips @ Black Cat, 5/15/10

Man alive. Now this, this friends is a show. Throw together a band I’ve been dying to see live for something approaching ten years (i.e. The Mother Hips) and a band that I’ve seen plenty of times but never, ever get tired of absorbing (i.e. These United States), and you’ve got good odds that my little head just might explode with molten, golden joy. And truth be told, it very nearly did cause cranial combustion.

MINI RECAP: The Mother Hips = Interminable Wait-Worthy! These United States = Predictably Peerless! Overall score: A.

Mother Hips, O Mother Hips. How long you made me wait to hear your saucy, smooth yet tangy rock und roll. Fifteen years is a really long time to stay away from a city, which is the approximate time lapse the band surmised between trips to my fair land. As I knew I would, I fell totally further in love with the band as they played and played and played. To hear them, be it getting their twang on or totally rocking out, was a beautiful thing indeed. Their sound is so warm, so much like a wonderful cocoon. They rocked my world, but in a cozy, comfortable way. They have the ease and casual awesomeness of a band that’s been around the block many a time, like elder statesmen, if you will. Their set was non-stop wonderfulness, and I just hope it doesn’t take them another fifteen years to get their little keesters back this way.

After the incredible fabulousness of The Mother Hips in their set (and encore!), it was time to bring on my local band numero uno. These United States have, from my very first time seeing them, constantly and faithfully wowed me live. And as such, I knew I (and the rest of the folks who wisely attended the show) was in for a treat. I wondered to myself what would be played, though assuredly it would all be splendid. And sure enough, it was. To me, they’re one of the best live bands around, and once again they proved it. It began with “The Business”, an old (well, old for TUS) favorite that I’ve not heard in donkeys. From start to finish, the members of These United States were full of vim and vigor and panache. Bands, this is how you play live.

“Everything Touches Everything”, title track of the band’s most recent LP, was up next, and featured the gleeful undulating and gesticulating and probably other –ings of the irrepressible Jesse Elliott. In fine form, Jesse made sure to give thanks where thanks was due. “Thank you, Oregon,” he mischievously stated before the band launched into “The Important Thing”, full of fine, thumping bass action. Elliott was in such a mirthful mood that he was actually giggling throughout the set, and frankly, I think there’s not enough giggling in rock these days. Another newish song, “The Secret Door”, broke up the giggling, as did old favorite “First Right”, which sounded lovely as played with the newer, meatier lineup. Formerly ethereal and light, the song took on a new, full-bodied flavor. In a nod to the new additions, Elliott finagled some lyrical wrangling as he changed the lyric, “There’s a picture of the three of us at the gate to the garden of Eden” to “There’s a picture of the six of us at the gate to the garden of Eden”. All together now, aww.

Elliott was full of proclamations and explanations, as per usual. “The Black Cat is the goddam greatest venue in the history of the universe,” he cheerfully opined, before voicing a totally killer rendition of “Good Bones”, one of my favorite songs from the newest record Everything Touches Everything. One of the many things I love about this band is how much of a group effort their performances are. As one goes so too do they all, and I’ve been lucky enough to see them on very, very good nights wherein everyone is kicking musical ass and taking names. When introducing “Honor Amongst Thieves”, Elliott elicited some giggles from the gaggle as he proclaimed, “This is just one of our greatest songs ever.” True words, friends. True words. But then, there are so many greatest songs ever with this band.

As the set went on, it was clear that the band was in the zone. They were in their special, happy musical places, and it was pretty dang magical up on that stage. They closed the dozen songs in the set with the excellently poppy “I Want You To Keep Everything”, and it was divine. My question as to whether or not there would be an encore was soon answered, and as the band strolled back to their places, Elliott smiled as he said, “I can’t believe we forgot to play these songs!”. First came a dead perfect cover song, “Can You Picture That” by Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem. The ramblin’ rose lyrics are just the sort of song you’d expect this band to cover. “Slow Crows Over” really did finish the proceedings, and it was brilliant. Hot damn, do I love this band.

‘Course, I can’t let them get by with a totally gushing review. Next time, boys, please make sure to include “Night & The Revolution” in the set. But otherwise, the set was fanfuckingtastic. If you haven’t seen this band live yet, make it a priority.

mp3: Honor Amongst Thieves (These United States from Crimes)

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