Last night was a bit divisive, so here are two takes on the anticipated show:
Having been a fan of Woven Bones for almost a year now, I looked forward to tonight's show at White Water as a rare highlight of my week. They've played in our city limits a few times for house shows and at Union, a promising, young local venue, but, due to pesky other obligations, this is the first time I've had the chance to catch the trio that occupied hours upon hours of my headphones at work and speakers in my car.
Needless to say, the sound didn't disappoint. Their minimalist slouch-rock tends to sound like the best of minimalist Krautrock, but diagnosed with A.D.D. They poured reverb on everything. Even the two piece drums. It was like farmer Walter's kid and Atticus Finch's syrup. But through it all, a bit of surfer-pop DNA showed through...and it kicked ass.
They seemed a bit tired for this, the first night of their new tour, but I'll give them the shadow of a doubt: they're road worn, in heavy demand after a flirtation from trendmaking blogs became a throttling group hug. That's enough to make the most Zen turn a bit sour. A few people in the house were visibly turned off by their attitude, but, hell, they must have forgot about rock and roll.
That aside, the three-piece hissed through a hugely fulfilling set list, hitting the entire "Minus Touch" EP and the high points of their celebrated debut album, "In and Out and Back Again."
I left soon after, ears tingling, appreciative that our little "grown-up high school" had an exchange student for the night.
-Appreciative John Tarpley
"So here we are at White Water Tavern...they have hamburgers, cheeseburgers, french fries..."
Woven Bones have stopped in Little Rock a handful of times over the last few months. But this, their first show at White Water Tavern, our town's (probably our state's) most celebrated, defining, stalwart venue, Woven Bones rolled eyes for the most of a set, making special note to present themselves as aloof as the tone of their music to a totally appreciative crowd. Acting too cool to play at a southern dive bar and offering up a little more than backhanded compliments, they gritted their teeth though 45 minutes of fuzzed out mood music ("longer than we usually play," the singer made sure to note) that was right on, but overshadowed by their perception of obligation. It was as if the band gritted their teeth through pleasantries at the uncool lunchroom table.
They cranked up another song and, for a second, i thought they were paying tribute to Suicide by doing a cover of Vega and Rev's seminal proto punk standard, "Ghost Rider." It wasn't. I had never noticed that the riff of "Jamie," one of Woven Bones' best, is just the Suicide classic played backwards and, suddenly, between the bitchiness and the riff biting, I found myself liking the band a fair bit less.
Maybe it's too much to expect a venue of people could get—at very least—a grain of thankful Southern decorum from a band out of Texas. But hey, it's the general consensus here that Texas ain't really much southern, anyways. At the very least, just don't sneer in the faces of a small but enthusiastic crowd, y'know?
If anything, last night was a reminder of why I refuse to spend more than a week in Austin.
Whatever. Maybe I just need a nap.
-Petty John Tarpley