Thursday, March 27, 2014

Pigpen Theater Company/The Spring Standards; March 27, 2014; the Frequency

It was nice to know when I was watching the Spring Standards perform most of their set acoustic during SXSW due to sound problems, that I would be seeing them again so soon.  This time through town they were with New York’s Pigpen Theater Company, who apparently is a band that is also an acting company.  They certainly have some fans, among them a pair of basement regulars that I’d seldom seen outside my house.  After I expressed surprise to see them they said they wouldn’t miss Pigpen, and had traveled to Chicago to see them in the past.  I told them they were in for a treat since I was there for the opening band who they weren’t familiar with.  I was delighted that they loved them and look forward to seeing them in the basement, which they swear they are doing the next time through town.

I first met the Spring Standards when they toured with Ha Ha Tonka, but I appreciate them more every time I see them.  Three of the four sing (two guys and a girl), which gives the band several different sounds, they do backing vocals on each other’s songs and their harmonies are stunning.  Meanwhile the fourth member plays guitar, bass and pedal steel, all while jumping around as much as possible; every show is an attempt to get a non-blurry picture of Noah. It was another great set, with a few songs done off mike and off stage where they show off how great their voices really are.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  My only complaint was that it was far too short due to occupying the opening slot.  They were obviously enjoying touring with Pigpen, in telling us about what we were in for, Heather tried to explain “I love my bandmates, but it’s one thing to be on the road with three hunky guys, but in the next band…”  “There’s only one,” one of the Jameses interrupted.  She laughed and went with it, “That’s right, there’s only one, and you have to figure out which one it is.”

As much I enjoyed the next band, I spent most of their set doing exactly that.  The lead singer, a fair redhead with a stunning voice resembling David Gray’s, seemed too obvious a choice.  They certainly all had their qualities, including good looks and excellent musicianship, but I eventually decided on the multi-instrumentalist who looked a bit like Dylan McDermott, with the bass player a close second (they are nothing but trouble you know).  They kept their Mumford-esque set interesting by stealing a page from the Standards and doing a few songs unamplified.  They also invited Noah to play pedal steel on a few songs, and Heather to sing, the finale was Tonka-esque with almost everyone on stage.  I told Noah he should play on all their songs, to which he responded, “No more bands.”  He’d been on tour for most of the last two months and while it may have been exhausting for him, it certainly made me happy to see him so much.  Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long to have them in the basement.
The Spring Standards

Pigpen Theater Company


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