100 Shows of 2010 - #41: La Strada @ Black Cat, 7/6/10

I won’t even try to hide it from you, my loves, I was so incredibly beyond excited to see La Strada in the flesh (FINALLY) I was as giddy as Colin and Justin remodeling someone’s tacky Canadian house (if you’ve never seen those two on TV, please amend that immediately, for then you shall know just how bloody happy I was to head up to the Black Cat for what I had absolutely no doubt whatsoever would be a fantastic set. Not even the disgusting, awful, horrible 100 degree temperatures could keep me away. And guess what? I was right. The sweltering was totally worth it.

MINI RECAP: La Strada = Humidly Sublime! Overall score: A.

The weather did keep some folks away, I’m sure, as the crowd backstage wasn’t quite big enough (in my humble opinion), but those of us who braved the outdoor sauna were treated to a splendid little set courtesy of this sextet of Brooklynites. Even the pre-set music was great, Bowie’s Hunky Dory record to be exact. It set the tone, and the band took it from there. You already know I love them to bits and pieces, and what they did on that stage just cemented and put a plaque on my admiration for this band.

They began with the weather-beaten, rambunctiously-opening “My New Home”, the sound filling every nook and cranny of the room, drawing people in from the main bar like moths to a sonic flame. Man alive, any band that breaks it down with an accordion in the middle of a song is head of the class. The live version of the most excellent “Where You Want To Go” was even more nuanced and sensational than on record. It has to be said that even before they had finished the first song of the set, I was already loving them just about as much as air-conditioning.

“Mean That Much” harmonized its way to near-perfection, and in some way the pop overture reminded me a smidge of the Beach Boys in their California heydays. Well, the Beach Boys as filtered through a traveling Eastern European circus perhaps. “There’s Only Love” sent chills down my spine with all that lovely, pitch-perfect harmonizing. Keeping four voices in tune like that is no easy feat, and when you throw in the violin, cello, and yes, the accordion, well, it’s sheer magic. The song was wistful yet totally uplifting, much like the La Strada sound as a whole. “Wash On By” was possibly my favorite of a set of favorites, the bouncy, jaunty irresistibility was spellbinding.

I don’t know what else I can say, my little darlings. La Strada is not to be missed live. I’ve told you how amazing they as a band are, but really, how could you help but love a band that a) names their accordian, and b) names it The Beast? Quite obviously, you’ll agree, you can’t not love them. So go see them, buy their merch, and buy them a drink or five.

mp3: Mean That Much (La Strada from New Home)


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