Thursday, March 30, 2006

Destroyer/Magnolia Electric Company

Metro'd up to U Street last night to catch the Destroyer/Magnolia Electric Co. double bill at the Black Cat. We got there a bit early, so we walked around the corner (go up 14th to the next block, turn right, go one block) to a little corner store and picked up a couple tall boys. We like to make this a small tradition for Black Cat shows, and I highly recommend others follow suit.

There was a second opener on the bill, somebody called Friends of Avalon (I think, please correct). They looked pretty young, local perhaps, and sounded like Zeppelin with a less powerful front man and a female lead guitarist (Magnolia Electric leader Jason Molina would later smugly note that, between the three bands on the bill, "We got just about all of the 70s covered") . Not bad, and I wouldn't mind catching another one of their sets. Destroyer came on about 10 pm. Not having heard much of their stuff I didn't know what to expect, but found their set very enjoyable. Bejar has some interesting turns of phrase and the band backing him up was pretty rockin'; I'd compare their live sound to something like Centro-Matic's -- twangy guitar rock with a bit of a dark side to it.

Magnolia Electric Company announced their intentions from the get-go: they would be playing 5-8 minute, mid-tempo, Crazy Horse style jams, all night long. The pace and tone didn't vary too much, but it wasn't a problem. Both Molina and the band's other guitarist get great tones out of the instruments, and the mix on the night was sharp. Highlights included "North Star", "The Dark Don't Hide It" (requested loudly by yours truly), and an unexpected cover of Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London". The band played for about an hour and fifteen minutes, and left with no encore.

Initially I was a little disappointed, but I've though about it and come to admire them. Every bad you see gives you an encore, whether you want it or not. It's become an obligation, rather than an audience privilege. If they play a great set and you want more, then you've got to cheer and clap and work hard to get them back out there. At the same time, I've always wondered if the audience simply refused to go home and kept cheering -- what kind of band wouldn't come back out and play one more? Misanthropes, probably.

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