Thursday, March 30, 2006

Magnolia Electric Co. @ The Middle East

This past Monday I went to see Magnolia Electric Co. at The Middle East in Cambridge. I've been digging Jason Molina in all his incarnations the past couple of years and have been waiting for the chance to see him live. I arrived to the venue an hour or so before the doors opened because The Middle East also happens to be one of my favorite restaurants in Cambridge. At the bar, eating my falafel sandwich, I notice that Molina is sitting right next to me. We got talking and he turned out to be a very cool guy. We mostly talked about Boston and music we both liked, but he did talk a little about life on the road, writing, and Magnolia Electric Co.'s recent tour of Europe. He definitely didn't come across with any rock star attitude, and he didn't seem to mind the company.

Vancouver's Destroyer opened the show, quickly getting the crowd into the mood to rock. I was only somewhat familiar with Dan Bejar's music, mainly through his loose connection with The New Pornographers. Sadly most of Destroyer's music had passed under my radar. No longer. After listening to a few tunes I got into the sonic guitar driven sound that is Destroyer. Destroyer will not let you down. Bejar has a truly unique voice, I had heard that he sometimes sounds like Dylan, which is true, while at other times he seemed to drift off and was barely audible, oh wait, that is when he sounded the most like Dylan. Overall, I was intrigued and look forward to digging into his back catalogue.

When Destroyer left the stage at 10:30, so did half the crowd. It seemed like most of the hipster crowd turned out to see Destroyer and were not going to stick around for Magnolia. This could have been because it was an all-ages gig, and the kids had to catch the T home, or the fact that it was a Monday night and most people had to work the next day. Either way, I made my way a little closer to the stage just as Jason Molina and crew took the stage. I was happy that they played songs from their newest album, What Comes After the Blues, but also delved into older Songs: Ohia material, such as Farewell Transmission and even closing with a cool version of I've Been Riding with the Ghost that left me wanting more. Jason Molina is a great songwriter, one of the best out there today, his images are dark and lonesome, definitely not feel good music, but real. He asked the crowd for suggestions (and played them), and seemed to be having a good time, even when he forgot the words to a few songs. I enjoyed the hell out of hearing how the songs on the albums translated live, if anything they took on a new life and were even better in front of an audience, but I guess that is the case with all music, no? Hope they pass through town again soon (on a Saturday night please).


heather said...

HOW funny. I know, I felt the same when I went to a concert recently with some local "Scene" bands (which I guess is like a whole genre of music and fashion unto itself that I had never heard of). I felt like I had landed on another planet. I was like, "Am I THAT old?!" I'm only 26, but I had NO idea what these kids were wearing. :)))

CHW said...

What a night! Molina is so under appreciated. Glad to hear you're into his stuff. What a treat to meet the guy. Also glad to hear you're still making the rounds. :)