Lullabye Arkestra with Jon-Rae and the River , Akron/Family , and Great Lake Swimmers at the Horseshoe, August 26. Tickets: $8. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Even before I entered the Horseshoe Friday night, I knew I had to accept the fact that things are supposed to be fucked up within the wonderful world of Lullabye Arkestra 's Justin Small and Katia Taylor .
For starters, the ultra-hip crowd showed up at the ungodly hour of 9:30 pm to fill up a joint that isn't usually jumping till, like, midnight. Then the ticket-takers insisted there were two of me there, and could they please see some ID?
Just before the Arkestra were about to go on, about three-quarters of the crowd bailed. I'm sure Small had trouble keeping that crazy grin going. As they kicked into high gear, I had to feel a little sorry for him.
I mean, come on. Heavy, bluesy love rock with a dollop of soul, belted out by a guy who thinks he's Otis Redding but looks like John Waters, who jumps up from his tiny kit to prance around the stage demanding that the crowd "testify," getting barely a reaction?
Not that his lovestruck baby, Taylor, seemed to mind. Slapping the bass strings and singing with a gravelly "two packs a day" growl, she proved she's the best rawk chick going since Kim Gordon. The full-on horn section tried to keep things going, but even Small had to face the truth.
"Let's hear it for Jon-Rae and the River ," he said. "It's their night, and they're a tough act to follow."
'Strue. The previous act, whose latest album I still can't stop playing every fucking day, brought on an entire choir that jammed the stage and harmonized like angels in purgatory.
When the choir walked off, the energy level stayed in the red as the band worked their way through tunes from Old Songs For The New Town with a twist. They had the whole freaking place eating out of their sweaty palms despite a blown monitor and overall lousy sound.
Even the River had a tough act to follow in second openers Akron/Family, who unleashed their startling cacophony on the unsuspecting crowd.
They veer between lovely three-part harmonies that all sound eerily similar to the Beatles' Sun King and freaked-out jams that take the mantra "repetition, repetition" as gospel.
The father of the Family, Ryan Vanderhoof, went on to introduce a new tune they'd just written in their van. He may have lied, but covering Neil Young's For The Turnstiles was the perfect showcase for Vanderhoof, who nailed the incredibly high notes of the classic lines "And though your confidence may be shattered, it doesn't matter" better than Neil ever did.