Saturday, December 14, 2013

This Is Our Music: Waxahatchee/Swearin'/Upset live

05 DECEMBER, 2013
In a welcome change of pace, December, usually a run-off month for shows at best, has spawned some monsters. In what could very well be the best value-per-dollar bill of the year, the Center For The Arts Eagle Rock welcomed an FYF presentation of Waxahatchee, Swearin', and LA's Upset on Thursday night. More than most bills, it was a uniform presentation, unfolding neatly over the night as a movement in three acts: Confrontation, Abandon, and Catharsis.
Upset has been on our radar lately, with October and November slots at the Echoplex, and it was up to them to kick things off, betraying a certain nervousness in stage manner, but certainly not in execution. Perhaps it was the gravity of the lineup, but they had nothing to fear, as the audience could certainly be considered a home crowd. Once they started playing, everything fell into place, and went accordingly. This evening's twist was a reversion to the Mark I lineup that recorded the LP, with Katie Goodman (Vivian Girls, La Sera, Kickball Katie) carving out time from her hella busy schedule to rejoin the fold. They maintained their core set from the debut album, and aside from running order, the cool change up was a blistering 7 Seconds cover. Taking it head on, Upset emerged victorious.
Swearin' filled the middle slot, and proceeded to lay waste to the proceedings. Fronted by Allison Crutchfield, (sister of Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield), and Kyle Gilbride (Producer of Upset's She's Gone), they parlayed ragged but right harmonies, (reminiscent of X's John Doe and Exene Cervanka), and an electrifying band into a short but brutal set, drawing in equal measures from their two studio albums. The unstoppable "Kenosha", from their debut, was an early highlight, and the set took flight with "Echo Locate" from November's Surfing Strange. and built to a fiery climax with "Young", "Crashing", and "Dust In The Gold Sack".
NYC by way of Alabama-Waxahatchee is Katie Crutchfield, the solo project that spawned last years American Weekend, now fleshed into a full band. Crutchfield undersold the set as "...ready for a bunch of sad songs?", then proceeded to turn what on lp are lullabies of grief into projectiles of pain and anger. Working tightly with the band, it was expected that the acoustic songs from American Weekend would be transformed, but even the tunes from this year's winning Cerulean Salt were goosed up hard in intensity. It was difficult to imagine anyone topping the full frontal assault of Swearin', but with a neat sidestep and a healthy clutch of songs from one of the year's best albums, Waxahatchee cut deep.

Scenes of the night that will stay with me for a long time were seeing Alison Crutchfield front and center in the audience for Upset, watching Ali Koehler air-drumming and singing during Waxahatchee, and seeing Kyle Gilbride singing along nowhere near a mic during Swearin'. Unlike the vibes of many multi-band shows, this was family, a well-matched night of musical and emotional connections.