The Scene: We showed up at The Walnut shortly after Jonathan Byerly left the stage and I was suprised at how full the room was already. It’s limited capacity (250) was part of the reason but a significant crowd of hipsters and preppy 30 somethings had turned out in force.
Between Urata and Buckner’s sets Lindsay and I grabbed a couple of sandwhiches and I’ve got to say they hit the spot. I don’t reccommend the pizza, but if you are hungry I’ll put in a good word for the Italian or Turkey, Bacon, Guac subs.
When Buckner left the stage it was a bit disappointing that a third of the crowd headed off to bed. I understand that an 11:30 start time for a headlining set is late, but those who left missed out on a fantastic set from new Colorado resident Eric Bachmann.
Opener: Nick Urata. As frontman for Denver based band Devotchka, Urata has perfected his crooning style and gathered his share of cooing female fans. Without the band behind him, we were treated to a sensitive performance that showcased Urata’s vocal prowess as he accompanied himself ably on guitar. An indie rock Sinatra of sorts, his set would have been well suited to have an old Bogie and Bacall movie as a backdrop.
Richard Buckner: Buckner was clearly the draw tonight and while I think his recent album Meadow is a decent folk-rock record, I wasn’t thrilled with his performance. Though Meadow features a full band, Buckner chose to tour with only ex Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard. As a result the songs featured from the new album were signifcantly rearranged to suit the two guitar line-up.
The room was packed for the duration of his 60 minute set and he treated fans to selections that spanned his 8 albums. His edgy folk sound lies somewhere between David Wilcox and Pearl Jam without the intrigue of either. The songs just never reached the peaks that they seemed destined for and left me a little unsatisfied. As my friend Dan put it “his songs were really like the first minute to a Pearl Jam song…interesting and good, but then there were no guitars, catharsis, crescendos and drums to take it up a notch.”
Eric Bachmann: Bachmann came on at about 11:45 and while this may have been late for some, I will never know how you can walk out on this guy. He has such command over his material and in a very calm yet intense way, he demands your attention. Early in his set Bachmann showcased the two gems of his recent release To The Races, Carborro Woman and Man O’ War before settling down into a set that included fan favorites New Drink For An Old Drunk, Broken Man and You Must Build a Fire.
He shared the stage for the duration of his set with two women; Kate O’Brien and Miranda Brown who sang background and played Violin and Keys/Drums respectively. The haunting harmonies the three wove were beautiful, however their contribution with regard to instrumentation was negligable. Bachmann has been touring solo recently and I would have been just as happy had he continued that trend.
The one sad thing that came out of this evening was the realization that though he has recently relocated to Colorado, Bachmann wouldn’t be playing here any time soon. He is headed off across the Pacific to Asia to feed the travel bug that haunts his soul. All we can hope for is more music of the caliber of To The Races and some homecoming shows in March or April of next year.
Stage Presence: A-
Set/Light Show: B-