Thursday, April 4, 2013

Waxahatchee Played 285 Kent Last Night

Also Radiator Hospital, Modern Hut, Certain Spiders

I've written quite a bit about Waxahatchee over the last several months. I haven't been the only one. The New York Times did a feature on sisters Katie (Waxahatchee) and Allison (Swearin') Crutchfield back in August of 2012. Rolling Stone named Waxahatchee as one of its Must-See Acts of South By Southwest. That coverage was in addition to the praise that appeared in the usual places like Pitchfork (Cerulean Salt, 8.4) and Stereogum, and a "First Listen" for Cerulean Salt over at NPR.

Katie Crutchfield brought Waxahatchee, as well some of her good friends, to that mecca for all bands on the rise last night: Brooklyn, NY. The crowd at 285 Kent surprised Crutchfield a bit, I think, with both its size and the reception it gave her. It shouldn't have. In the span of just over twelve months, Katie Crutchfield has put out two fantastic records for Don Giovanni as Waxahatchee; and it's nice to see that she's getting the recognition that she deserves.

285 Kent is an extremely spare place: a small bar at one end, the stage at the other, graffiti-like artwork on the walls. It shares one of those walls with Glasslands Gallery next door, and I could almost do a review of the Golden Grrrls show that happened there based on the sounds seeping through to 285. 285 Kent is big, though, and Waxahatchee sold out the place. The show was all ages, and the crowd gave me that sometimes self-conscious feeling I get about being one of the oldest people in the place. I just tell myself I don't look it.

Radiator Hospital (aka Sam Cook-Parrott) opened with a solo set on electric guitar. He had no setlist but managed, giving the crowd a nice glimpse into the short, personal songs that make up the Radiator Hospital catalog.

Don Giovanni Records co-founder Joe Steinhardt followed, performing a solo acoustic set as Modern Hut. His sound and delivery are reminiscent of some of the indie lo-fi recordings of the late 80s / early 90s done by people like Lou Barlow.

During both sets, the Crutchfield sisters and other friends of the bands sang along and just generally looked like they were all having a good time. Katie Crutchfield mentioned from the stage several times how nice it was to be playing with and for friends.

Things got louder for Brooklyn trio Certain Spiders. I haven't been able to uncover much about them online, but I really enjoyed the sound that their guitarist coaxed from his Telecaster: twangy, but still a little dark.

Waxahatchee took the stage at around 10:15. They were a trio last night with Cook-Parrott and Keith Spencer joining Crutchfield on bass and drums respectively. The songs from American Weekend, including "Noccalula," "Grass Stain," "Be Good," and the title track all got the full-band treatment and sounded great. Idea to Waxahatchee and Don Giovanni Records: Release an EP that features some of those arrangements. I'll buy it.

Crutchfield held the crowd rapt with those songs and the tracks off of Cerulean Salt, including "Coast to Coast," "Brother Bryan," "Tangled Envisioning," and "Peace and Quiet," for her entire set. Her sister, Allison, joined her for a duet on "Blue Pt. II," and the band closed out the show (Crutchfield under protest, I think) with their rendition of Paul Simon's "Boy In The Bubble," Crutchfield standing on tiptoes and straining as she screamed the chorus. Unlike probably 99% of the people in the place, I was able to sing along with every lyric to that song.

I had a few moments of doubt last night. Like, "What am I doing, at my age, driving all the way to Brooklyn while my family stays home to go to a show with a bunch of kids?" But Waxahatchee's two records absolutely deserve all of the press and recognition they've received; and once Katie Crutchfield took the stage with her band, all my doubts went away.

I've said this before: as much as we like to tell ourselves this, we never outgrow the feelings that Crutchfield writes about in her songs. I'm beginning to think that I'll never outgrow the feeling I get seeing my favorite artists, new or old, perform live.

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