Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Civil Slingers, Howler, and Quilt @ Great Scott (4/7/12)

Sure, it’s fun to see a gig with a bunch of like-minded acts playing music that can be filed under the same exact micro-genre.  But sometimes a show featuring three distinct sounding groups -- like the one that went down at Great Scott on April 7th -- can translate into an equally cohesive experience.  Especially when you’re at the best sounding club in Boston.

Local three-piece The Civil Slingers opened the night with some Southern-fried tunes that hovered somewhere between raucous alt-country and rockabilly punk -- a sound that could just as easily fit in a rock club in Nashville as it could in a dingy Allston basement.   Emerson sophomore Mike Sampson shares frontman duties with Joseph Aaskov (the two switched between lead guitar/vocals and drums about halfway through the set), while Sean Taggersell manned the bass. Regardless of who was singing, the resulting songs felt consistent.  In fact, the whole mid-set swap gave the performance an old-school, collaborative vibe that you don’t see very often in an age of DJs, backing bands, and one-man sound projects.   Sonically, their unpretentious style was reminiscent of Americana acts like Deer Tick and Dr. Dog -- but in terms of energy and attitude -- it was straight rock n’ roll.  

Next, Minnesota's Howler played some lively, danceable indie-pop.  As the only touring band on the lineup, Howler came armed with a repertoire of slick hits -- the kind of songs that feel destined for heavy rotation on alternative radio stations and tons of attention overseas (think: Arctic Monkeys, The Postelles).  It didn’t feel very original, maybe even a little formulaic, but there was no denying their technical talents; they made performing catchy songs look effortless.  

Local freak-folk favorites Quilt closed out the night.  Fresh off of a lengthy East Coast tour and a stint at SXSW, the trio were more in-sync than ever.  Their signature trippy arrangements still wandered, but with a tighter, more polished payoff -- and their soulful boy-girl harmonies were almost too big for the tiny bar to contain.  It helped that whoever was running the sound booth had likely live-mixed for them at least a dozen other times, and knew the ins and outs of their hypnotizing jams. They offered a pair of new songs, too, that approached their Fleetwood Mac-meets-1960s-psychadelia aesthetic with a fresh, spirited energy.  Pretty sure they’re already on the road again, so here’s to hoping they find some time to lay down these tracks as soon as possible.   

By Pat McDermott

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