Scene: The Larimer Lounge was sadly fairly empty tonight. A late 20’s early 30’s crowd of probably 70 people came out to see the Denton, TX band Centro-Matic play their first front range show in 9 months in a venue that is being reborn. If you have been the Larimer in the last year or so you will have noticed some changes. The bathrooms were reworked a little bit and the sound and lighting were improved. The stage was made significantly larger and the back patio was upgraded but the big news dropped on the day Centro-Matic came to town. The upstairs that was once off limits to show goers has been turned into 2 glorious new bathrooms . . . that’s right the Larimer has new bathrooms . . . stalls with doors, toilets that flush and don’t leak water (or worse) and tile floors . . . the whole deal. Some may say it takes away some of the charm of the place but I honestly think that it is huge improvement. The Larimer is one of my favorite venues in town but those old bathrooms had to go.
Opener: Kettle-Black. Checked out a few songs and then checked out. Not because they were a bad band but because it was so damn nice outside and there were picnic tables open. The folky acoustic rock vibe these guys were sending out was unpolished and the vocals were a bit weak but they do have promise. Infuse a little more energy and melody and maybe Kettle Black will go somewhere.
Centro-Matic: Every time I see these guys I like them more and more. Will Johnson’s warbling tenor is soaked in the heart and energy he pours into his music and his life. The Larimer a great room to hear these guys as the intimacy and ambiance of the room suits their sound very well. Songs such as “The Mighty Midshipman,” “Calling Thermatico,” and “Flashes and Cables” were performed with might, passion and Johnson’s trademark slow motion leg kicks.
A humble man with a remarkable resume Johnson has kept a low profile in the musical world while cranking out album after album. He is the lone songwriter for 3 projects (Centro-Matic, South San Gabriel and his solo material) and in an interview with me last December commented on his songwriting prowess. “I understand and respect the idea that there may come a day where I can’t [write songs]. So long as I’ve got it in me, and have that energy and spirit in my soul, I should respect that and get it out. There may come a day where I’m gonna go sell paint, or shoes, or sofa cushions. If that’s the case and I didn’t get it out when the getting was good, then I’ve only got myself to blame and there is nothing sadder than a great song that was never written.”
The major radio formats may not have latched on to his songs and Paste Magazine didn’t name him one of the 100 greatest living songwriters but frankly that doesn’t matter, this guy can write songs and he fearlessly performs them even if the room is less than 1/4 full. In a brief conversation with Johnson after the show I commented on how I wish more people had come out to hear them and his response was a soft-spoken “we always do.”
A bar band in so every sense of the word Centro-Matic will probably stay under the radar but do yourself a favor and go check them out, they will renew your faith in rock-n-roll.
Sound: B (In a little club like this I don’t blame the band)
Stage Presence: A-
Set/Light Show: C- (In a little club like this I don’t blame the band)