Oh, swoontastic me. Laden with error and cliche, here's all the love I had for the Long Winters show last week that wasn't fit to print. Be gentle with me. xo
There was plenty to do this past weekend in our beloved, still sort-of sunny Seattle: The Black Keys at the Paramount. Youth Rescue Mission, Kimo Muraki, and a slew of amazing mini-bands at Columbia City Theater. Kurt Reighley's reading over at Elliott Bay Bookstore. Wheedle's Groove, Dungen, DUG -- and dozens of other shows, as they saw fit to grace the stages.
But the one place that had it all, not surprisingly, was the John Roderick / Eric Corson (nee Long Winters) show at the Triple Door. The bright-lights-big-city feel of the venue, the good food and strong drink, the gathering of friends -- and most importantly, John and Eric's epic set -- were all present and accounted for. To sweeten the pot, Tacoma-based openers Goldfinch and spot-drummer Jason Finn (Presidents of the United States of America) rounded out a lovely, late, packed-house kind of vibey night this past Thursday... and there was nowhere else that the collective 'we' would rather have been.
There's something about attending a Long Winters set -- and by 'Long Winters' I mean 'John Roderick solo but with Eric Corson playing 90% of the time', for the sake of these references -- that consistently trumps the experience of attending any other show. Plenty of bands are earnest, plenty of bands pull on the heartstrings of our inner gears, and plenty of bands have The Thing -- whatever it is about them, the quality that That Keeps Us Coming Back: time and time again, even if for an identical setlist, at the same time of year, at the same exact venue. But of those bands, there are only a handful that manage to transcend an already mindblowing level of earnestness and take it up a notch -- a place laden with brilliant, blinding moments; where the crack of a single sustained note two songs in pushes you to tears, as the next fills you with raucous laughter and nostalgia.
And The Long Winters are one of those bands.
To state the obvious: it's the twofold component of the music and the delivery as only John and Eric can beam it out. It's lyrics that go unmatched, years after being penned (if I kissed you now / like sun streaming through a tavern door, for starters), delivered with an undeniable truth. Each line fills with it's respective fanfare -- or a lack thereof -- as the moment dictates. Combined with just enough at-your-fingertips tangibility, these songs and moments between merge and result in the inclusion of the audience in the very performance itself -- making Long Winters sets something we experience, rather than attend.
And for the critics -- yes, the show had it's share of imperfections. A missing cable, a few mis-tunings caught just prior to opening notes, and even a total drop of a lyric line during "Scared Straight" -- but the imperfections themselves were the very thing that made up the embrace. Chatting with John Roderick about the tangibility of performances once, I stood firm-footed as a legitimized fangirl-cum-amateur rock photographer (and thereby with much experience on the topic) in favor of the trips and the mis-steps. As we'd both seen at a recent performance a month or so prior, a technically proficient show can become bunk even with the greatest songs and best of intentions, as an over-proficiency without engagement on a person-to-person level lends itself to a total disconnect between the band and the audience. What the Long Winters -- Roderick himself, really -- seem to have a knack for is bringing that tangible level up to evens with the expertise needed, to deliver the moment at hand with a rawness and an elegance both -- and then somehow, magicially hold the balance for the duration.
And though the scale may tip a little in one direction or another -- it does get Delivered. As do we, grit of the stage under our fingertips and all.