THE LEVELLERS THE LEVELLERS THE LEVELLERS
at Lee's Palace, February 19. Tickets: $15. Attendance: 350. Rating: NNN if contrast is something you go for, then it was fitting to preface an acoustic gig hosted by feckless English nomads the Levellers with a stop by Town and Country's show at the NOW Lounge. Seldom is such a range in evidence on the same night.
Where the Levellers, those gonzo champions of the outdoor festival, embody all there is to love and hate about bawdy Guinness-drenched folk punk, Town and Country are so genteel, they're almost silent. The Chicago-based foursome, playing before a small but attentive huddle, unspooled their narcoleptic chamber jazz with aching precision. Single notes hovered for so long, you were certain you could see their outlines in the ether.
Not so the Levellers. They bashed and howled and made certain every poncey bloke in the joint caught wind of their enthusiasm. Seated in a semi-circle like camp counsellors, singer Mark Chadwick, fiddler Simon Friend and guitarist Jon Sevink laid out their rousing us-against-them anthems -- and an ABBA cover! -- with the pluck of crusties who've been bashing away on tour for a thousand years, which is about right.
Visual enhancement came from myriad scrims hanging all over Lee's Palace, but the real attraction, naturally, was the Levellers' weather-beaten harmonies and just about any selection from their Levelling The Land disc.
Town and Country, though probably unintentionally, made the case for studio-only bands. Good as they were -- and they were, being gifted multi-instrumentalists all -- you couldn't help but feel they'd sound even better heard under a snuggly blanket with a steaming mug of chamomile tea, which, come to think of it, is a perfect antidote to Levellers-induced revelry.