Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Silos/Weinland; June 5, 2008; High Noon Saloon

The Silos have been around for two decades and for most of that time, the line-up was constantly shifting, revolving around the only permanent member, lead singer and songwriter Walter Salas-Humara. In the last half dozen or so of their existence the membership had solidified somewhat and I started to expect to see Konrad Meissner behind the drums and Drew Glackin on the bass. That all changed at the beginning of this year when Glackin passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack related to an undiagnosed (and very treatable) thyroid condition. It drove home the problem of most musicians in this country being uninsured. When the Silos tour now, it is in memorial to Drew and an attempt to raise awareness of the problem. A portion of tonight’s proceeds went to benefit

So it was a shame that no one was there. Granted there were probably as many people here as had been in basement last March when the Silos put on a stunning rock show, but that many people spread out over a space ten times the size looks like not many people at all. There seemed to be a number of likely explanations. The show was somewhat last minute, booked only a few weeks before to make the trip to a Chicago festival more feasible. It was an early show, the 6:30 start time was unusual for a touring act. But most likely was that it was just too expensive. For many people, $15 is the number at which they stop and think about whether they really need to go or not. Yes, it was for a good cause, and to see a great band, but it was still $15.

Opening band Weinland seemed somewhat embarrassed by the whole thing. I got the feeling they hadn’t heard of the Silos and therefore couldn’t quite understand how they had ended up on a bill with such a high ticket price on their first visit to Madison. Yet another band from Portland (which seems to be spitting out bands left and right these days), they had something all those other bands did not, their own blend of coffee. Weinmark is infused with Maker’s Mark during the roasting process, and even though I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to get me drunk, it was too tempting to not try. Their demeanor certainly didn’t seem over-caffeinated, and their mellow indie rock stuck close to the Death Cab for Cutie model of songwriting.

Though Walter seemed to like them, he confided that it made him nervous when quiet bands open for them. I told him it was better than the other way around, and besides everyone here knew what they in for. Instead of the trio format I had grown accustomed to, the Silos were now a “big band,” with a lead guitar player in addition to the rhythm section and a keyboard player who sat in on half the tunes. Turns out his backing band was made up of familiar-looking Milwaukee residents, ones who had been in bands as high-profile as EIEIO, who have a new outfit called Guido’s Race Car. Even though they were new Silos they already knew an impressive catalog of songs.

While the show at my house highlighted the new release Come On Like the Fast Lane, tonight’s show focused on the greatest hits of a whole career. There were obvious omissions like “Susan Across the Water” and “Drive Around,” but it would be hard to complain about a set that contained both “Drunken Moon” and “People Are Right” from Fast Lane. The former may have been the song that sold me on them at a very strange long-ago show in DeKalb where they played a full set despite the fact that there were only five of us there. It seems no matter the circumstances you can always depend on Walter and company to put on a great show, and that was true again tonight.

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