Some old business first: You may have noticed yesterday that there was no MP3 Monday. And you may have then thought, "That jackass will probably post an MP3 tomorrow!" But that part would have been wrong. MP3 Monday is taking a week off; it'll be back and better than ever tomorrow, though!
Now then. Some even older business.
Last Tuesday, Wye Oak played to a sold-out crowd at Club Café. The Baltimorean duo released its latest, Civilian, on Merge this past spring. It's one of the finest of the year, I think, and the title track especially is wonderfully infectious – the best "driving around after dark" song to come along in quite some time.
Locals Sleep Experiments opened the night; I was running from place to place and only caught the last two songs of their set, but it was understated, pretty, and perfect for the show. The room was already full by the time I got there, and the crowd was rapt.
The room being full was, of course, an aspect of the show that bears mentioning; I've got no hate for Club Café, where the vibe is wonderful for intimate shows. But it does get a bit awkward when the space is sold out, and having to enter right next to the stage is pretty uncomfortable. On top of that, Wye Oak may have been a bit too powerful for the club -- there's something about a more conventionally shaped room that I think lends itself well to louder bands. The more square room at Club Café causes the band to project outward in a more diffuse way, which I think dilutes the power of the music. But I digress.
It was the first night of Wye Oak's current tour, and they were ready to go: Jenn Wasner's wonderfully bassy voice controlled the room, and her shredding guitar solos nearly overpowered it. Andy Stack's job -- playing drums with his right hand and feet while he plays a keyboard bass with his left -- is intimidating, but he pulls it off gracefully. Sure, there are times when I wondered what the band might be like if a dedicated bass player were around, and Stack could really let go on the drums. But as it is, he leaves little to be desired.
As the band's encore wound to a close, Wasner prepped to play one last tune solo while Stack headed for the merch table; she explained that she had trouble with her throat recently and had to give up coffee, drinking, and other pleasantries of life. And that she was under strict orders not to talk after singing a full set, so if we saw her afterward and she didn't speak, not to be offended. Then she crooned one final tune and, with the crowd still wrapped around her guitar-picking finger, made a quick exit out that front door.
In other, related news, a quick heads-up on a couple of charming chanteuses coming to Club Café this week: Tonight, Verve recording artist Lucy Woodward
appears at the South Side venue with her trio; doors at 6, show at 7, I plan on having a review for you, maybe in less than a week this time. Then tomorrow night, Lia Ices
-- the slightly less conventional, if just as beautiful, singer whose latest was released this year on Jagjaguwar, appears with openers Broken Fences.