Sunday, March 2, 2008

we saw: Acorn/Phosphorescent/Bowerbirds

"Was it always there, or just distraction?"

Friday night at the Mercury Lounge held one of the best show lineups of the year, and while hard to neglect the hype, the show exceeded all things buzz, and may as well leap into the historical category. The evening kicked into high gear when Ottawa's The Acorn took the stage, performing an assortment of songs from their Bobk-approved Glory Hope Mountain. Their set, which began with "Crooked Legs", consists of a hodge-podge of musical arrangements that at times led to dueling ukuleles. It was clear from the get-go that Glory Hope Mountain comes alive on stage, with songs like "Bad Antenna" and the "Flood Pt.1" taking on a chugging train like quality that felt like Gloria's story jumping off the page and onto the stage of life. A rousing version of "Low Gravity" confirmed all my suspicions that this band is poised for big, big things in the future. Glory Hope Mountain gets proper US release this Tuesday, but we'd still recommend shelling out the extra loot for the limited edition vinyl, which, like we've said before, is one of the most beautiful records we've ever owned. It's that good.

(Photo courtesy of Ihateanarchists)
Usually, our evening would end their, but with a lineup this absurd, it's hard to head out into the night, and with Brooklyn's Phosphorescent (aka Matt Houck) up next, it was hard to imagine heading back out into the Lower East Side any time soon. I'd heard great things about the Phosphorescent live show, and after Friday nights gig, I fully understand why this guy is constantly playing out, and always making waves. Pride was a late 2007 purchase which has kept me warm and cozy all winter long, lending it a certain under the covers like quality, however, on Friday night the last thing I wanted was my blankey. Opening with "My Heroes Have All Been Cowboys", Houck's lovingly strained vocal was spot on all evening, despite members of his band's constant request for the soundman to tweak levels on and off stage. It didn't matter, in fact, once they fixed Matthew's microphone, it was like he was delivering the softest, most sincere church sermon we'd ever heard, as "Wolves", "Cocaine Lights" and "My Dove, My Lamb" took on a crowd silencing, almost religious, tone that left me feeling that Matt Houck's Phosphorescent is going to be making waves for a long time to come.

(Photo courtesy of Ihateanarchists)
I could've left after Phosphorescent feeling satisfied, but on this fateful night I had the pleasure of wrapping things up a dessert set from the Bowerbirds. The room, which had bulged during Phosphorescent's set, had wanned, leaving a quiet set of attentive Bowerbirds fans to finish off the hallowed evening. From the beginning it was story book; someone lit a joint, and the Mercury Lounge was immediately engulfed in the dank stank of NYC delivery service. Lead singer Mark Paulson didn't mind, as he took the stage, only to say "Smells good up here." He is a very idealistic looking young man, almost as if he stumbled out of a dream. And with the songs he delivered, accompanied by Bowerbirds Phil Moore and Beth Tacular on percussion and accordion, it wouldn't be wrong to assume these three stepped out of a long lost world similar to Narnia, minus the hostility and bizarre deer-men. Culling froms songs off of 2007's Hymns of a Dark Horse, the Bowerbirds transformed the Mercury Lounge into their own little bonfire, as if the audience was lucky enough to be taken to their majestic Air Stream, parked somewhere deep in the woods of Appalachian North Carolina. "In Our Talens" and "Olive Hearts" were clearcut highlights, while "My Oldest Memory" whisked me off to a desert island where only swaying palm trees sing. It was that sort of magical evening. And then, off into the wintry mix.

The Acorn- Crooked Legs
Phosphorescent- A Torn Up Praise
Bowerbirds- In Our Talons