Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Merge 25 - Night Three at the Cat's Cradle - 7/25/2014

Merge 25
Destroyer, Wye Oak, The Mountain Goats, and David Kilgour and the Heavy 8s
Cat's Cradle
7/25/2014

After stuffing myself silly at Carrburritos, I got into the Cradle right at the end of Imperial Teen's set and caught their final two songs.  I've never been all that excited by these guys, but maybe I was in a good mood or the songs hit me just right but I liked what I heard - tons of energy and the crowd seemed way into it, but as per usual I don't have anything else to say about Imperial Teen. 

I got there a little early specifically because I didn't want to miss any of David Kilgour & the Heavy 8s.  To be completely honest I've not listened to his solo work all that much, but I love his band the Clean so much I felt it imperative I see him perform live as much as possible, regardless of what songs he might be playing.  Even though I didn't know any of the setlist, I thoroughly enjoyed the band's set - most notably Kilgour's excellent guitar playing, which held me transfixed for much of the set.  His New Zealand accent was so thick he jokingly put on a fake British accent to be understood, but you need no translator to understand good music.


I've never seen a Mountain Goats show that featured so little banter from frontman John Darnielle - I guess they took their short time slot to heart and decided to power through as many songs as possible.  They played a lot of crowd favorites like "San Bernardino," "Amy," "This Year," and what is probably the band's greatest song, one that had the entire crowd singing along, "No Children."  There was also a cover of the American Music Club song "Who You Are," a track I had never before heard, but Darnielle and company really made it their own.  Knowing how rabid Mountain Goats fans are, I'm betting there were folks who attended this show or even this festival specifically for them - I hope they at least enjoyed the quality of their offerings since there was a lack of quantity, because the quality was high. 

Wye Oak held down the penultimate leg of the evening.  I've said it elsewhere but they're really two different bands these days, the former guitar-based Wye Oak versus the current bass heavy electro-pop Wye Oak.  I really like both versions, though I might give a slight edge to the older, more rockin' version of the band because that is the one responsible for their best song "Holy Holy," which they thankfully played in their set this night.  Outside of that track and a couple of other older ones, Jenn Wasner left her guitar in it's stand and focused on songs from their new record "Shriek."  It's a little bit of a shame because she is such an excellent guitarist; but it's no surprise that on the new songs, she dominates the bass just as well.  Oh, and that amazing voice, plus she's incredibly attractive.  Honestly it wouldn't take much cajoling for me to quit my job and travel the world stalking her professionally (at a respectable distance, of course - I'm no creep; well, only a slight creep).  It's an odd feeling, loving a band's new direction while simultaneously missing their old sound...usually I hate when a group changes as drastically as Wye Oak have, but in this rare case it works. 

Destroyer closed the night, and it was incredible.  The last time they rolled through town in support of "Kaputt," it was like the whole band, especially frontman Dan Bejar, had downed a fistful of 'ludes before taking the stage.  By comparison this outing was downright ebullient!  Early in the set Bejar exclaimed "Gotta find my tambourine...it's gonna be worth it," and I knew based on his mood it was going to be a good night.  Including Bejar the band was running at eight members, including two full-time horn blowers and an organist.  Outside of a couple of new songs (which sounded great), most of the setlist was made from the albums "Rubies and "Kaputt" - and the best songs off of those albums to boot.  The list included "Savage Night of the Opera," "Chinatown," "European Oils," and the closer for the night, the epic "Rubies."  There was still a little time until 2 AM and I was hoping the band would keep going until closing, but like some crusty old Englishman once told me we can't always get what we want.  I'm pretty sure this gig is going to lead me down a manic Destroyer listening party for the next few weeks.  I don't see that as a problem.

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