The Austin music scene through the eyes of a programmer/music enthusiast/show-goer

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Review: The Constantines

The Constantines were joined by Oakley Hall Thursday night at Emo's. If you weren't there then you missed one of the best shows of 2006. Straight up.

The intensity with which they played had the entire crowd hooked from song one. From then on there was constant audience clapping to the beat + yelling/singing lyrics along w/ the band. This is what bands that are really into their music -- and good music at that -- should play like. Denmark's Figurines should take note. These Canadians have got the goods.

They played quite a few favorites off the recent Tournament of Hearts, including an awesome rendition of my favorite, "Soon Enough", which featured Oakley Hall fiddler Claudia Mogel and backup singer Rachel Cox. Past album songs included "Arizona", "Young Lions", and "Nighttime Anytime (It's Alright)". There was also a raucous version of "Shine A Light", which involved all band members and 1/2 the audience raising their arms like sunbeams before they simultaneously came crashing down in a blast of rock to cap the song. The bass player even climbed atop his amp tower only to jump back down to the stage for the songs' closing.

There were a couple of missteps, however, but all can be forgiven. Two songs, including "Theives" off Tournament of Hearts were sung by guitarist Steve Lambke. While I like this song on disc, his voice doesn't really translate well in a live setting. His soft, nasally voice coupled with his less-commanding presence was all but consumed by the music's thunder. Leave it to the master, lead singer Bry Webb, whose gruff voice serves as it's own equal instrument in the Constantines brutal attack.

The dude in front of me that performed air-drums throughout the entire set, w/o a single care as to how ridiculous he might have looked, about sums it up for how intoxicating they were live. Personally I can't wait for them to return to Austin. Until then I will be honing my own air-drumming skills in the privacy of my own home.

Walking into Emos I was a little worried. The first of the two opening bands was finsihing up and the volume was so loud you couldn't tell the girl at the door you were already on the list. My ears didn't stop ringing until two days after the show (but I think the Constantines might have had something to do with that as well). Having never heard Oakley Hall before, I was worried about what we were in for. Fortunately they were nothing like the preceeding band and were actually quite good. Oakley Hall's country-fied rock features multiple guitars, a keyboard, and a fiddle - a quality touch if you ask me. And let's not forget those two cute female contibutors either. They won over a good portion of the audience as their set chugged along. More and more people flooded in from the Emos patio to - heaven forbid - actually come listen to the music being played inside.

You're likely to hear more about Oakley Hall. Already with two (!!!) albums out in 2006 alone (Second Guessing, Gypsum Strings), they will make their mark on in due time.

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