Patrick Watson, the man and band showed up to a sold-out crowd at the Vogue Theater this past Thursday (June 14th). As it was general admission seating I showed up at 8 (show start time). I brought a buzz to avoid buying the overpriced beer. The fellow in line ahead of me had chosen to wear a raccoon tail. This is not a new way to wear your hair; he was wearing an actual raccoon’s tail, from the ass of his jeans. Why not?
The warm up act was called Cat Martino, from Brooklyn. It was mainly a one-lady band, but she did have a sidekick help out with some vocals, electric drums and some other small parts. The lead used repeat pedals to turn a lone voice into a choir and some basic vocal sound effects into rhythm and percussion (similar to an Owen Pallett show). Her vocals got fairly intense at times; she was passionate and could hit a lot of notes. The music itself was part techno, part folk, part pop and at times trance-inducing with all of the repetition and swirling vocals. If I had to categorize it I would call it “dream-space-elfin-pop” don’t ask me where the ‘elfin’ came in, both performers were of a natural height, but I guess all of the green lights and pixie dust sound effects gave off a slight elfish feel. In the end it was enjoyable to watch and hear, although personally I would not seek it out.
At 9:00 Watson took the stage alone, gave a brief introduction, sat down and began to play Lighthouse off of their new album Adventures in Your Own Backyard. Those who have seen Watson perform before know what they are in for; those who haven’t probably won’t be disappointed. [On a side note I think it is fair to say that having seen the band perform before it is easier to be disappointed (than having not) as they have set the bar very high in the past performances I have seen]. As he worked his way into the song, the rest of the band came out to join him. All of this was in complete darkness aside from the small lights the band used for navigating through the modest sized stage that was crammed full of instruments and gear. Watson; the man, was his usual self, he is reminiscent of a street performer/hobo with a snarl for a laugh and an infectious grin; he is quirky and always seems to enjoy his time on stage, and what a voice. Watson; the band, were also their usual selves, jam like, but tight; masters of their instruments, playing off of one another, they always take the songs into extended non-album places. The first hour of the show was dedicated to the new album; hitting all of the major players: the title track, the opener; Lighthouse, Words in a Fire, Into Giants, and most of the rest. They then broke into some stuff off of the previous album including Big Bird in a Small Cage which he asked the audience to help sing; call me a downer but I don’t ever seem to care for this, at any concert, it ruins the song – which it did. Butchered it really, no female back up either.
Light seemed to have a strong bearing on the show. The lighting effects were top notch, they had that stage intricately packed; to the gills, and a lot of that was lights. Lights and 2 huge cylindrical, 3 tiered, cone shaped projection screens (it would take two paragraphs to fully explain). Aside from all of that and the many strobe and color options it provided, they also had a few songs during which they would huddle around one mic with a small light shining on the performers (Into Giants, Words in a Fire) where the light kind of simulated a campfire, giving the show a somewhat intimate feel. Other songs showcased a simple but effective candle-like string of lights sprawled throughout the stage (think Nirvana Unplugged but darker) which glowed bright and dark with the music’s ups and downs.
The last two songs of the night were Where the Wild Things Are and Build a Home, they were the highlight of the night. In the end, a solid performance, but I have seen better from this band.