Live Review: These United States @ Rock'n'Roll Hotel, 5/11/2011

It had been one heck of a long time, 12 months give or take a day hither and yon, since last I had the pleasure of seeing my very favoritest DC band on a stage. And that, friends, is a long time to be languishing in withdrawl. I hadn't actually realized just how excited I was to see These United States for the manyeth time until I was sat upstairs listening to them soundcheck "I Want You to Keep Everything," and then it hit me. As they say in Jersey, not for nothing is this band my favorite in all of DCland (even if many of them no longer reside in the greater Metro area).

Never have I seen this band look anything other than absolutely elated to be up on stage doing their thing, or sound totally splendiforous. Or, for that matter, I've never seen them play the same set twice. One more, these mad hatters dipped into their ever-expanding catalogue to deliver a set of ten rollicking, lively, and flat-out fantastic songs. "I got a big brand new Cadillac of a plan," sang front troubador Jesse Elliott during second song "The Business," a song played, as were all songs in the set, with a wink and a sly, knowing grin. "We're gonna play some old tunes we haven't played in a while, cuz you seem like some old friends," Elliot proclaimed before the band began "Will It Ever." And the entire set did indeed have a warm, friendly feel. Which, really, is par for the course with this band.

"The Important Thing" was a treat to have included in the set, the band almost radiant with jubilation and Elliott doing his bounce thing during more excitable moments in the song (and in many other songs, as it happens). He even went so far as to bounce right off the stage to hug a friendly face in the crowd, a gesture that pretty much sums up the warm fuzziness of These United States.

"We just made this up a little bit ago," Elliott wisecracked before "Slow Crows Over," one of my favorites from the band's first LP. Who needs more cowbell when you can have more steel, as the band proved with this updated arrangement. They stormed through their set, engaging and ever so enjoyable with their giddy Americana poetry. Elliott reached extreme impishness during one of my very favorite These United States songs, "Honor Amongst Thieves," gesturing and grinning uncontrollably. I was so delighted to hear this song that I actually came home and listened to Crimes, which is probably my favorite TUS record. An absolutely golden rendition of "I Want You to Keep Everything" came next, and was fizzing and popping with the band's infectious energy. When it was (sadly) time for the band to wrap things up, they closed with a cover of Smog's "Hit The Ground Running." Cowboys and Southern gentlemen are the order of that song, and as Elliott sang the line, "All I know is I'll hit the ground running," I felt confident that this band will continue to do just that.

If you've never seen These United States live, my loves, get a move on. They might just be your new favorite band.

mp3: I Want You to Keep Everything (These United States from Everything Touches Everything)


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