Sunday, February 19, 2012

Shearwater/All Tiny Creatures/Coo Woo; February 19, 2012; High Noon Saloon

After ten days in China I definitely needed to see a show. While some of my trips to foreign lands have revolved around music, OK, around the Wrens, this trip was solely to see the country. China was absolutely terrific, but there wasn’t much chance of finding a band I wanted to see in either Beijing or Shanghai. After a red eye flight back from LA and a six hour nap my clock was reset and I was off to the High Noon to see Shearwater. I hadn’t seen them since they had opened for Okkervil River at the Catacombs a million years ago when half the band members were pulling double duty. I bought their first record, Winged Life, and half expected that they had been following the same sleepy path since then. Sometimes I like being wrong. Lead singer Jonathan Meiburg was as adorable and charming as ever, his departure was one of Okkervil’s great losses, but the band has certainly kicked it up a notch.

They were touring in advance of Animal Joy, due to be released next week, “but we have it with us tonight of course” he grinned. I hadn’t planned on buying a CD, in fact I’d only brought enough money for cover and a couple drinks, but after their terrific set I wasn’t leaving without one. Other than an uncomfortable vocal exercise early on, I found myself turning to my friend after every song, nodding, affirming, “that was a good one.” Meiburg’s voice switches from baritone to falsetto with ease and lends a cheery bravado to the songs. His band was also uniformly excellent, and he introduced keyboardist as “a bit of a genius.” I can tell Animal Joy is destined for many many plays. Hopefully they won’t wait so long to come back to Madison, but after this show I’ve decided they would be worth a trip to Milwaukee or Chicago.

Shearwater has been touring with Sharon Van Etten and was playing Madison on a night off. Since they didn’t have their own openers, two locals filled out the bill and they were well chosen. Milwaukee’s Coo Woo was poppy and catchy, reminiscent of long gone Madison band Rainer Maria. Their female vocalist didn’t seem to quite know what to do with her hands while she sang, and looked slightly uncomfortable though she didn’t sound it. Madison’s All Tiny Creatures generate dreamy soundscapes. There are vocals, but the words indistinct, Thomas Wincek’s voice just another instrument. With the array of equipment, and the various cords running between them, Wincek almost could be a one man band. Luckily though he isn’t since his bandmates make the songs complete. Their sleepy showgaze may have been a more obvious match for the old Shearwater, but that’s what made this pairing so interesting.

It’s good to be home.

Coo Woo

All Tiny Creatures


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