Monday, May 26, 2008

Langhorne Slim & the War Eagles/The Builders & the Butchers; May 26, 2008; High Noon Saloon

“This is our first time in Madison,” Langhorne Slim stated halfway through an entertaining set in front of a surprisingly large crowd on Memorial Day. Huh, I was sure I had seen him previously with the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players at Luther’s Blues, introduced as a friend of theirs from New York. I eventually realized he was talking collectively about his band The War Eagles, not just himself. And there is quite definitely a difference between the two. While his previous solo efforts did nothing to disguise the willful oddness of his voice, on this new self-titled effort he seems to have learned how to sing.

Truth be told, I kinda miss the old voice, the kinda voice only a Bob Dylan fan could love. Always a sucker for the non-traditional, I enjoyed “When the Sun’s Gone Down” despite the odd looks I got from people who happened by my desk when it was playing. That CD’s title track and the rant-n-raver “Mary” with it’s hilarious opening line “Mary are you the mother of my god, Mary, you’re sweeter than corn on the cob, it’s scary” were the highlights for me in a set that went heavy on the new album’s easier on the ears songs. Don’t get me wrong, I like the new record too, and I can’t argue that it certainly seems to have increased his profile amongst the hipster kids (the fact that this show was co-presented by Muzzle of Bees is evidence of that).

Opener The Builders and the Butchers seem poised to similarly raise their own profile. A willfully odd group, their most engaging feature is a pair of percussionists who flail away wildly on every song. Occasionally one of them would forsake his drum kit in exchange for a trumpet or a guitar. Near the end of their set, the B&B brought their audience into their percussion frenzy by passing out a variety of handheld instruments for the folks up front to bang away on. It reminded me of Sunday mornings in church when all the children are invited up to participate in the last song, though this crowd did have slightly more rhythm. By the time the lead singer pulled out a battered metal megaphone to sing into, you get the feeling they would rather be playing in the middle of the floor than on a stage. They made for an excellent and well-matched bill.

I need to mention perhaps the best merch I have ever bought, a child-sized tambourine stenciled with their name, I couldn’t put down the rest of the night. Genius.

1 comment:

jeremiah said...

i was bummed about missing this one...