I wish I had seen a lot more shows when the Spring Standards toured with Ha Ha Tonka, because it turns out they are pretty awesome. A fact I really didn’t appreciate the first time I saw them in Iowa City when I was on tour with the boys, but that I have come to find out the two times I’ve seen the Standards since. What they do is pretty brilliant. Not only do they have three lead singers, but they also have three drummers, and they are the same people. When they started as a trio with a keyboard, bass and guitar, there was no one to play drums, so they effectively split the drum kit between them. Each person has a drum or two plus a cymbal that they are responsible for. Of course, this wouldn’t work at all if they weren’t so in sync with each other, but it does work musically, magically. They take turns singing lead, sweet-voiced Heather and the two boys named James, who will forever be King James and James the Savior to me since those were the names Tonka gave them, and their harmonies are stunning. Then there’s Noah, who plays guitar, steel guitar, bass and whatever else they need as he jumps around joyously behind the front three. I do a lot of swooning at Spring Standards shows.
The last time they played Madison the room was sadly empty, tonight was a much better crowd. Not only bigger, but enthusiastic too. On that previous visit they moved to the floor to play several songs unplugged. Despite there being much less empty space tonight, they did it again. The down side was I couldn’t hear them as well as last time, but it was still a great. I couldn’t help but think (again) how great they would sound in the basement. Hopefully that will happen someday.
Their tourmates on this run also drew more than a few fans. The quirky duo You Won’t were nerdily charming and consistently entertaining. Their high energy set had many notable moments, including a sprint through the crowd by lead singer Josh Arnoudse to retrieve wind chimes from the merch guy. It was an unlikely source of percussion and an intriguing sound. Perhaps the oddest moment in a set filled with interesting quirks found Arnoudse crooning the classic “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” through a plastic whistle pipe, all while standing on one foot. It was a fun moment in a very fun night.
The Spring Standards