Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Paint the Town Orange

June 5th, 2008 - New York, NY - Knitting Factory - Haley Bonar, Hayden, & Kelly Rudick
Images and Review by Dominck Mastrangelo

Whenever I go to a show certain songs, hell, even full albums, are opened anew and heard in ways perhaps I wasn't expecting or hadn't really absorbed at first glance. I'd liked what I had heard from Haley Bonar's new record Big Star (Released Today!) but ultimately felt there was something missing. On Thursday, however she did it, Bonar cleared up any shortcomings I may have found with her release.

Now I find myself thinking it's a shame that her sweet and achingly beautiful songs didn't find more of an audience last Thursday at the Knitting Factory. With a voice that sidles up nicely with Neko Case and Mary Lou Lord (with more than a hint of Shawn Colvin as well), Bonar and her backing band for this tour, bassist/guitarist Jacob Hanson and drummer Alan Church, performed a lot of material from the new record and 2006's Lure the Fox.
The title track and "Better Half", both played toward the end of the set, featured hushed vocals to start and building toward the chorus. Hanson's guitar playing provided a spacey texture to "Big Star" (mp3) while Bonar asked plaintively "What happened to you? You used to be punk." on "Better Half".

Songs like "Green Eyed Boy" and "Arms Of Harm" were excellent and earlier material like "Give It Up" and "Daisy Girls" were respectively buoyant and haunting, reminding me a lot of Aimee Mann's work circa Magnolia Soundtrack. There's a very matter of fact sound to Mann's work and I found myself thinking that way about Bonar's set whether she was on the guitar or at the piano. Outside of the solid musicianship and execution, there was very little in the way of banter or anything from Bonar that sought to wind the small but attentive crowd a little closer.

Certainly one could let the songs do all the talking but those kind of tactics were more in line with the headliner, Hayden, who was touring for the first time in four years. The Canadian's confessional, folk-rock songs spanned his catalog to the delight of a rather passionate following that quickly filled the venue between sets.

Opening was Brooklyn's Kelli Rudick who's killer guitar work and intricate finger picking evoked St. Vincent while the series of loops and pedals she used to layer her sound evoked Laura Veirs among others who perform solo with the guitar. Rudick played songs off last year's excellent No One Knows You're Foreign and her upcoming release Stitches.
Upcoming Dates:
Jun 10 Local 506 : Chapel Hill, NC
Jun 12 Varsity Theater : Minneapolis, MN (CD Release Party w/o Hayden)
Jun 17 Plush : Tucson, AZ
Jun 18 The Casbah : San Diego, CA
Jun 20 Troubadour : West Hollywood, CA
Jun 21 Café Du Nord : San Francisco, CA
Jun 23 Aladdin Theater : Portland, OR
Jun 24 Tractor Tavern : Seattle, WA
Jun 28 Schubas : Chicago, IL
Jun 29 The Magic Bag : Ferndale, MI
For more concert photos from Dominick Mastrangelo please visit his flickr page.

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