Matt the Electrician/Nick Brown; July 19, 2012
I wouldn’t have thought a tour opening for the Weepies would do that much for someone’s career, but there were almost three times as many people in the basement as there was the last time Matt the Electrician played. Which is good news indeed, Matt is a sincere and genuine performer with just as many hilarious as sentimental songs about his wife and kids. It’s no wonder that he connected with a whole new audience on that tour. His growing fan base also includes the youngest house concert attendee yet, a five month old baby was in the audience, complete with his own personal tiny blue headphones. Even though basement shows seldom get that loud, I was happy to see they were being responsible. Apparently, he’s been to a couple shows already and he knows what he likes. He was fairly well-behaved during Nick Brown’s opening set, but got fussy during MtE. Maybe the song “Animal Boy” hit a little too close to home.
The song is one of many Matt has written for his kids. When his son was young, he was hungry all the time, leading to the nickname Animal Boy. I guess he still is; Matt told the story of making the kid burritos which he gobbled down quickly. When he asked for more, Matt refused, to which his son replied, “But dad, I am the animal boy.” His latest obsession has to do with numbers. He warned us not to get him started, but that didn’t take much. It all started with the fact that he was noticing the time 11:11 more often than would seem likely, which led to Google searches and the whole pseudoscience of numerology. He’s been making wishes right and left based on the supposed good luck of 2:22 and 5:55 and all the others. He again brought along the banjelele, a tiny four stringed instrument that I desperately wanted to be called a “manjo.” While it’s tiny plink seems more suited for Don Ho impersonations and Tiny Tim tributes, Matt uses it in a slightly more serious and interesting way.
Only the songs were serious in Nick Brown’s opening set, the banter in between was nothing but silly. As bass player in the Brown Derby, Brown doesn’t get a chance to talk much, and he obviously he saves it all up for his solo gigs. His rambling monologues at times bewilder but mostly bemuse his audience. Brown had been slated to open for Jon Langford back in May but smashed his finger moving a bookcase. This was his first gig since then and he gamely played despite the fact that the damaged nail was barely holding on. “Someone may end up with a very gross souvenir,” he warned. Brown had just released Slow Boat, a collection of original songs funded by a very successful Kickstarter campaign. The catchiest of the bunch is “Light Beer and Heavy Hearts,” the first song where he claims the title came first, the song second.
The record’s most poignant number is “Melanie” about a man convicted of killing his girlfriend’s stepfather twenty years after the incident. The true story, which Brown covered while a newspaper reporter in a tiny town in Vermont where not much happened, ever, is told from the shooter’s point of view, and it’s a heartbreaker. The record is terrific, full of smart songs and Sons of the Pioneer style backing vocals. It gets my vote for best local release. This was Brown’s first time in the basement, but I will definitely be asking him back. I know a lot of great local songwriters, but few have such great banter.
Matt the Electrician