16 January 2010

Vetiver @ Lovin Cup

When I first saw Vetiver, opening for Akron/Family two summer ago, I was prepared to dislike them. But I was pleasantly surprised, hey they weren't half bad. I haven't really listened to them too much since that introduction, but I decided to go see them again on their return to town last Thursday night.

They added a woman on keys since I last saw them. She was from Rochester, as was the drummer. Which might have explained some of the oldest and youngest in the crowd.

So if the last time they surprised me, this time they simply amazed me. Incredible show. For some reason I was reminded of the Low Anthem set I saw at Newport last summer. Reminded by contrast, not by similarity. Both bands could be lumped into a new brand of folk music. The Low Anthem really went out of their way to introduce new twists into the fray, with unusual instrumentation etc, whereas Vetiver followed the more classic principles of simplicity, letting the songwriting take center stage. Sitting through the entire Low Anthem set I kept thinking I should really love it, but it became too much of an effort. They were trying too hard for my attention, and I was trying too hard to enjoy it. But with Vetiver, their songs, which I am mostly unfamiliar with, became instantaneously familiar and enjoyable. The sounds were subtle, nothing standing out too much, a true group effort. The keys for example, a potential earsore, fit in perfectly, adding just enough to the overall sound without overdoing it. And this was a folk band, like Hot Tuna, that didn't underestimate the power of great bass playing. Speaking of the sound, the quality was incredible for that size space. It was my first time in Lovin Cup, and I was quite happy with it, a very nice place to see a show, other than the out of the way location.

Lead man Andy Cabic poked fun at the bass player because he let him write the set list and it was a bit different than usual, switching between electric and acoustic and covers and originals. But in my opinion, the set list was masterfully put together. It just had a really nice flow, with a subtle build to the end and enough variety to keep it sounding fresh all night.

Time for me to purchase some Vetiver albums...

Oh, and George Wein, if you're listening, book these guys for Newport this summer.

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