Friday, August 15, 2008

Patchwork (CD release)/Whatfor/Jentri Colello/Elden Calder; August 15; The Frequency

Since moving to Madison last summer, Patchwork’s Jeremiah Nelson has been trying to get it together. Not his music, no, he recorded much of his terrific new record Carry Me Down the Interstate in the “warehome” he shared with a friend under some trying conditions. And he certainly isn’t short of motivation, he’s embarked on several ambitious national tours that he has booked himself, traveling from coast to coast playing anywhere he can. No, the only thing he can’t manage to keep together is a band.

He’s on his third drummer, second bass player, and he just added a lead guitar player. He described it me as being like owning a restaurant where every week you have to train all new staff. Luckily the line-up he has settled on now seems intent on sticking around. His drummer Chris Sasman is the third member of This Bright Apocalypse to sit behind the kit, following Adam Cargin (of Blueheels) and Luke Bassenauer (of Elden Calder). The newest member of the band is Josh Harty who pulled double duty tonight, also playing lead guitar with Jentri Colello. Since he is quite honestly the best guitar player I know, I’m always happy to see him lending his talents to another band.

The only problem was that only a fraction of the crowd remained by the time Patchwork took the stage. The Frequency has already firmly established itself as a late night venue where the shows seldom end before last call. With four bands on the bill and a 10 something start time, it just got to be too late. To their credit, none of the bands played too long and the switchovers went relatively quickly, that’s just a lot of music to try to pack into one night. It was a shame that more people weren’t there for his set of earnest pop songs and folky meditations.

The crowd was probably at its biggest for Jentri’s set. With a positive review from the Isthmus’s Tom Laskin and another pat on the back in a recent article by Rich Albertoni, the buzz has been growing exponentially around her. Heck, even the notoriously picky Marco Pogo showed up to check it out. With only a fraction of the neuroses of Cat Power’s Chan Marshall and all of the voice, her name keeps popping up as someone who could be on the verge of blowing up. Me, I’m still charmed every single time by her unassuming stage presence and hypnotic tales told in her gorgeous purr of a voice. I’m certainly not the only one.

Eric (at least I think that’s his name, everything about this band is mysterious) of Elden Calder started off the night with a solo set. With keyboard player Elliot Kozel and Luke both in the audience it seemed a shame that he didn’t have the full band playing behind him. Since the former has moved to Minneapolis and the latter just returned from Ghana the week before, any sort of practice would have been difficult. While the solo set was good, it didn’t have near the impact that the full band set would have had. In addition, with the level of chatter early in the set as people tried to switch from socializing to listening, it was difficult to hear some of his delicate pop. I wish the band played more often, their perfectly crafted songs make me miss Philly’s terrific Trouble with Sweeney just a little bit less.

The penultimate set of the night came from WhatFor, the brainchild of Sleeping in the Aviary drummer Michael Sienkowski. While I’ve seen SitA range from sweet acoustic country-flavored songs to minute long punk rants, WhatFor occupies a slightly narrower range, the unlikely space where Radiohead plays 60’s inspired rock anthems. Often tending toward good-natured self deprecation, as in the catchy “I’m a Bummer,” WhatFor fills the gap left by Sienkowski’s former band Eyebeams which broke up when several members moved away. He is well-backed in this endeavor by his SitA bandmates, Elliot Kozel on guitar and Phil Mahlstadt on bass, guaranteeing that he will always have a band as long as SitA is around. As both bands never fail to put a smile on my face, I hope that is long time.

Kudos to Jeremiah for putting together such a terrific line-up, even at the risk of lessening his own set’s impact. It seems he just wanted to see all these bands as much as I did.

No comments: