Thursday, June 18, 2009

TVD Live | An Horse @ The Black Cat, 6/17/09

If you're a fan of live music, your life encompasses rare but regular performances that validate all the time and effort you put in to find worthwhile artists in the hardscrabble itunes landscape of Linkin Park and Beyonce. For me, the list is short but oh so sweet - The White Stripes, 1999, Recher Theatre, Baltimore. Lucero, 2007, Ottobar, Baltimore. The National, 2008, 930 Club, DC. An Horse, 2009, The Black Cat, DC. Yes, there is a tough 8 year stretch of living in upstate NY, where good music goes to die. There is also the fact that I didn't really discover music until young adulthood. That's not really the point is it?

The headlining act last night was Telekinesis, and they were really quite good, but with all due respect to them, last night's show and this review are about An Horse.

From the opening chord Kate Cooper and Damon Cox captured every eye and mind in the dingy backstage at The Black Cat. Their energy wasn't the punch in the gut of most rock bands, more an arm around your waist and a tender but insistent kiss. They didn't demand your undivided attention, but they sure as hell took it.

Damon's drumming is perfect for a two-piece. Strong, insistent, busy without being aurally monopolizing. Kate is a star. Sprite-ish but kick ass in her boyish slim jeans, flannel shirt and close cropped blond hair I spent the whole hour wishing she was my little sister. Her guitar playing is lush and full as power pop demands and her vocals are perfectly affected, just rough enough to convey the reality that she's lived them.

An Horse steamed through almost every song from their debut LP, "Rearrange Beds," the punchy rock of songs like "Postcard" and "Camp Out" interspersed with the ethereal 4 am perfection of "Listen" which saw Damon momentarily abandon his sticks for a more appropriate (and perfectly rendered) melodica to accompany Kate's emotive performance, her fingers audibly sliding up and down the neck creating a sound that in the context of such a song eerily evokes gentle weeping.

As they left the stage I tried to text my best friend, to sum up everything I had seen, to capture the first thoughts on a band I am sure to like for a long long time. All I could muster was "Wow fucking wow," and wow fucking wow was appropriate.

An Horse - Camp Out (Mp3)
An Horse - Postcards (Mp3)
An Horse - Listen (Mp3)

TVD Three-Way Action | Mittenfields

We’ve got a bit of an atypical week here at TVD in advance of a show we’ve been looking forward to for some time. On June 23rd, the Black Cat hosts a stellar triple bill with We Were Pirates, Voxpop, and Mittenfields and in lieu of our normal First Date feature this week, we’re just gonna date ‘em all. One a day, three-way style.

Our glorious three-way finishes (!) this week with next Tuesday’s headliners Mittenfields who’ve steadily grown on me and continue to impress with their development as a ‘newer’ band. It’s been a real joy to hear this project morph into an outfit that’s growing leaps and bounds beyond their peers.

We chatted with Dave Mann, Mittenfield’s bassist (and a guy who’s been a real supporter of this blog for some time now) to get the skinny on the comings and goings within the group leading up to Tuesday’s last show before the band takes a break to write new material.

"Mittenfields are all about [well, its debatable as to whether we are "all about it"] switching up their line-up. In fact, Emily (violin/vox) played her last show with MF at Black Cat back in December of 2008. She then moved to Chicago and has just recently moved back to the area. So it is only fitting that she returns to Black Cat with MF. A match made in heaven...perhaps.  

Andy Ayers (cello/vox) joined MF back in January and had to leave the band unexpectedly (not voluntarily) in April of 2009. So we weren't looking forward to having a 3rd line-up change but with Emily being's almost as though we are back at square 1, which is a 4 sided friendly shape for us to be at.

Now if the stars align and Andy is able to return to the band....well, this will make us all feel like gathering around a campfire with some smores because it will be good times indeed."

Mittenfields - Cut To The Chase (Mp3)
Mittenfields - Fog (Mp3)
Mittenfields - Natural Disasters (Mp3)