Thursday, February 28, 2013

Insomniac Folklore, Jonathan Warren and the Billy Goats and Fleet Street Klezmer Band @ Neurolux (2/26/13)

Some readers out there may be wondering, "Hey, where's the post on the Youth Lagoon show?"  The answer is simple: there isn't one.

Judging from this Boise Weekly write-up, last Monday's "secret show" at Neurolux was something.  As one gentleman says in the article, "Every hipster who is any hipster is here."  Which, I suppose, proves that I'm not any hipster.  For all of my vanity and ambition, I simply couldn't bring myself to spend time and money on a group I have never particularly cared for and consider grotesquely overrated.  But God help me, I may yet write about Youth Lagoon in the near future.  For one thing, not to do so feels more and more like ignoring the elephant in the room.  For another, while the adoration that their/his music receives from a certain portion of the population frustrates me, it fascinates me as well.

Just thought that I should make some kind of statement before starting this post.  Moving right along...

As some readers may recall, I saw Insomniac Folklore play the Red Room back in August.  I enjoyed their set so much that I actually posted on Treefort's Facebook page a request that they be added to this year's lineup.  So much for the influence of bloggers, I guess.  Anyway, when I learned about this show, I jumped at the chance to see them again.

I counted about thirty people at Neurolux when I arrived.  When Insomniac Folklore played, I counted about sixty.  A very respectable number.  What made it even better was the fact that a good chunk of the crowd seemed familiar with their music; when the band asked the crowd what they'd like to hear, Tyler Hentschel looked impressed by the requests that they received.

Fleet Street Klezmer Band opened the show.  They might have sounded a bit loose this night, but that didn't do much more than lend a certain woozy charm to their gypsy folk tunes.  It helped that they seemed to be in a good mood: Victoria Kostenko wore the sweetest smile on her face as her fiddle swooped and fluttered while newcomer Hollis bounced all over the stage and let rip on bouzouki.  Shlomo Kostenko's deep, droll, friendly moan sounded in good form, and he very helpfully recommended that the crowd consult the alcohol behind the bar if they didn't understand the lyrics.  Their cover of "Turkish Song of the Damned" helped me feel like less of a presumptuous ass for my earlier Pogues comparison.  Another nice moment was when Adrienne Hentschel and Amanda Curry from Insomniac Folklore got up to dance.

Jonathan Warren and the Billy Goats played next.  Asked 'em for the Louvin Brothers, they brought me Old Crow Medicine Show.  These local favorites' roots seemed to run about as deep as a few skimmed-over issues of No Depression and maybe some fond memories of Hee Haw.  Of course, the same could probably be said about any number of so-called Americana acts nowadays.  Besides, their songs did show some decent craftsmanship.  Quite pleasant as well were Jonathan Warren's weathered vocals, Dave Sather-Smith's groaning cello, Andrew Smith's sprightly drumming and newcomer Abraham's fluid violin solos.  It would've been nice, however, if Sather-Smith had eased up with that gratingly phony hillbilly accent.

Insomniac Folklore closed out the night.  Man oh man, it woulda been something if this group had played Treefort.  If anything, their warm, witty, playfully sardonic songs and sweet, slyly cartoonish stage act were even more enjoyable than I remembered.  Tyler Hentschel's clanging riffs, stomped-out beats and humorously portentous baritone played Ring Around the Rosie with Adrienne Hentschel's tart harmonies and Amanda Curry's viscous basslines.  Song topics included playing with Legos, arson, the meaninglessness of existence, the best way to not be afraid of the dark and how you should listen to your parents but not the government.  Beneath all of the sarcasm and smirking gloom, however, lurked hearts of gold: their finale, "Earplugs," pledged eternal love and closed with the chant "L'Chaim to life."  The crowd didn't leave their seats, but they did clap to the beat, sing along and give the band some warm applause.

And now, for the benefit of those who weren't there, here are some shots of Insomniac Folklore's fourth member: Wallace, the World's Only Singing Sheep.

"He talks a lot when we're in the car, but he gets kinda shy when we're onstage."

Another cute touch: Adrienne Hentschel blowing bubbles.

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.  Special thanks to Eric Gilbert and Radio Boise.

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