Monday, August 07, 2006

The Clientele w/ Great Lakes @ Iota Club

I ventured down to the Iota Club in Arlington -- a short walk from my then-residence in Rosslyn -- for the second time to catch the Clientele on the second stop of their US tour. This trip to the club was considerably more satisfying (the last time ended with us being shut out of the sold-out Minus 5 show, leaving c/s to blast the club for it's ticket policy), and I now consider this one of the better joints in the DC area to catch a show. Good sound system, reasonably priced Shiner on tap, easy to meet the band afterwards, Metro-accessible.

But to the show at hand: we got there with four songs left in the Great Lakes set, walking in to find the crowd packed tightly into the room but oddly still six feet from the stage. Why the first few people didn't decide to move up front I'm not sure, but after that mob mentality takes over and no one's willing to step forward. The first few Lakes -- an "associate" member of the Elephant 6 collective -- cuts we heard were mid-tempo rockers, country-tinged in a way similar to Dylan's longer, loping stuff from Blonde on Blonde. Pretty enjoyable and a fine opening act, but the band kicked into another gear for the last two songs, both psych-country-rockers, not unlike something from the Beachwood Sparks. I actually got pretty into it, what with the Neil Young feel on the solos and the Patrick Berkery/Ric Menck-style drumming.

After a short break, the Clientele came on. Their Britishness was on display from the beginning, with lead singer Alasdair Maclean adding "Thank you very much indeed" after each tune. The material was new and unfamiliar, but didn't differ terribly from the Byrdsian jangle (Maclean also copped the intro to the Byrds' "Eight Miles High" of previous work. Some songs were certainly better than others-- one called something "and Victoria" was particularly nice, though the band readily admitted they needed practice before heading to Nashville to record at the end of the tour. Assuming they were not, and the band quietly went about their business trying out the new tunes, augmented by new member Mel Draisey on violin. While it was apparent the band was still beginning to gel (Draisey seemed to be unsure of what to do on a few songs), Draisey's addition was a nice bit of polish on the live show.

The high point was undoubtedly single "Since K Got Over Me" -- Maclean quipped that was their "hit", "at 450 copies sold" -- with the wonderful Kinks-inspired bassline and that almost-inside-joke of a hook in chorus, taken directly from the Crystals' "And Then He Kissed Me". They played it near the end of the set, before coming back to accept requests for the encore and closing with a wonderful new song whose name now escapes me. All in all, not what you'd call a mind-blowing show, but certainly a pleasant one from a good band feeling their way through some strong material.

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