Author Archives: Kendon A. Luscher

TVD Live: Waxahatchee at Beachland Ballroom, 7/20

PHOTOS: JUDIE VEGH | Katie Crutchfield loomed tall on center stage, wearing black leather shoes with thick soles. Her twin sister, Alison Crutchfield, seemed smaller in her ballet slippers and short, pixie haircut. They had been in bands together since high school until their last project, P.S. Eliot, disbanded and they each started their own separate projects. Katie Crutchfield started Waxahatchee, who I saw play at the Beachland Ballroom Monday night. This was her band, so she was taller. She was center stage. By the end of the show, she was the only one on stage.

It was only fitting the show ended the way Waxahatchee itself began—just one woman with a guitar, singing darkly into a microphone. But that wasn’t how most of the night went. The Waxahatchee of 2015 is a different beast from the band’s stark, sometimes brutal solo beginnings.

The band had an airiness about them, reminiscent of the Crutchfield sisters’ P.S. Eliot pop-punk days. Even as the instruments drown in the shallow waters of distortion, Katie Crutchfield’s vocals felt measured and comforting. It’s the resolute calm in her voice that made her solo offerings at the end of the night so haunting and the full-band romps the rest of the night breezy and joyous.

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Speedy Ortiz, more than just a “lyrics band”

PHOTOS: JUDIE VEGH | “I don’t consider us a lyrics band, and I write the lyrics.”

This was Sadie Dupuis’s retort to a question about a subject that had been hashed over a thousand times in print—the weight and importance of her lyrics. She is the lead singer and guitarist for Massachusetts indie band Speedy Ortiz, and I had just made the mistake of accusing the band of being known as a “lyrics band”—a label I never thought of as accurate but seems to stick with the band anyway.

I chatted with the band on a clear blue evening in Cleveland Heights. The band sat on the concrete flower beds outside the Grog Shop where they would be playing that night. Dupuis and drummer Mike Falcone did most of the talking. Guitarist Devin McKnight chimed in agreements at sporadic intervals while bassist Darl Ferm silently smoked a cigarette to the side.

During their show, many of the songs employed a soft-verse, loud-chorus dynamic where the guitars roared to life on the choruses. Dupuis and McKnight had their guitars hooked up to a half-dozen or more effects pedals they slammed on and off throughout the songs. Ferm’s bass was a constant backbone through the set, grooving along during the choruses, disappearing under the guitar’s wall of sound during the choruses and reappearing like a ghost that had always been there but wavered between different planes of existence.

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TVD Live: Islands at the Grog Shop, 9/19

The band left their entire set list in plain view under a spotlight towards the front of the stage. Everyone in the first few rows could clearly see they planned two songs for the encore. That didn’t stop them from waiting backstage for several minutes while the young audience screamed their own brains out. A guy in the crowd yelled, “Thank you!” and followed it up with “Yeah, bitch!” when the band finally came back on stage.

Before the last song, lead singer Nicholas Thorburn said, “It’s been six, eight years since I’ve been here?”

“Six years,” someone yelled back.

“Too long. Like in that David Bowie song, ‘Six Years.’”

The crowd applauded with loving zeal after every song—any song. They whistled and screamed their excitement, and Islands deserved it. Their live show was full of faithful reproductions of the album versions—like watching the band nail take after take in the studio.

The tracks sounded so faithful thanks mostly to the backing band’s perfectionist instrumental aptitude. The Gordon brothers, Evan and Geordie, switched adeptly between playing keyboards and bass and guitar. They not only replicated the notes and arrangements of every song, but the very tone of their instruments was spot on and uncannily similar, which is a hard thing to replicate live.

I was a little worried during the first few songs as Thorburn’s vocals were buried under the instruments, making it hard to pick out the vocal melodies let alone any actual lyrics. After the second song, he asked for “more vocals,” and the sound was brought into a perfect equilibrium.

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TVD Live: Hospitality
at the Grog Shop, 8/6

PHOTOS: JARED PERRY  | It’s going to be hard avoiding “hospitality” puns in this review. The band was just so damn nice and inviting. Most headliners hang out backstage, waiting to rock their fans’ faces off, but not Hospitality. They were on a mission to be just another three people at a show in Cleveland—they just happened to be headlining the show, too.

Before the show even began, they walked around Coventry, checking out the neighborhood around the Grog Shop. They ate together as a band at Chipotle (I thought this was a dining mistake, but they never asked me restaurant suggestions). During the opening acts, they hung out in the back of the crowd or at the bar almost the entire time.

At one point, Greta Kline, the lead singer of opening act Frankie Cosmos, invited all the members of the other opening band, Porches (where Kline also plays bass), and Hospitality on stage with her to play the last song. Musically, it was a terrible idea. Ten people played a song most of them probably didn’t really know.

Toward the end, Kline yelled, “Everybody solo!” and they all did exactly that, creating a noise that was the audio equivalent of having 100 kindergarteners draw on one sheet of paper. But Hospitality didn’t mind obliging, and that wasn’t the point anyway. They cared about fun and they cared about inclusion.

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  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


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