calexico/iron & wine review

Went to the Calexico/Iron & Wine show Saturday. Saw nothing to alter my perception of Calexico as The Greatest Band in the World. Their set was almost all new stuff (only three tracks from the last album and EP, plus the traditional Tulsa Telephone Book cover). I think they’re getting more mainstream over time — fewer trumpets, more vibes, more Joey-as-traditional-front-man stuff than the more organic, experimental vibe of their earlier stuff. But still greatness.
If you have the time to sit through a 700MB download — and probably convert it from Flac to MP3 when you’re done — this live show from 2003 is excellent. The Link Wray cover (“Falling Rain”) is amazing. (Aw, hell, here’s the MP3 so you don’t have to go through all the converting malarkey. That’s Nicolai Dunger guesting on second-verse vocals. And here’s Alone Again Or, the other cover from that night [original by Love] and something a bit more in the trad Calexico style.)
Was disappointed in Iron & Wine. Actually, I don’t know if “disappointed” is really right, since it was just about what I expected; their songs are terrific in a quiet bedroom on headphones, ponderous and borderline oppressive on a big stage. Every song seemed to go on two minutes too long, the playing (outside Sam Beam’s terrific guitar work) was amateurish, and the tone dipped into the funereal at times.
First, to continuing a burgeoning tradition here on, here’s the third installment of Who Dat Drummer?, the regular feature in which, after attending an indie-rock concert, I interpret the appearance of the bands’ drummers via pop-culture references.
– Calexico (John Convertino): A older, tired Peter Krause with a smoker’s cough and a trucker hat.
– Iron & Wine (not sure, maybe Brian Deck, who drummed on the last I&W EP): 1/3 Daniel Craig, 2/3 advanced-balding Pete Townshend. (He probably prefers to emphasize the Daniel Craig part, but ol’ Pete’s winning the battle.)
While we’re talking about Iron & Wine’s drummer, he had all the subtletly of a rock to the back of the head. On a couple songs it sounded like he thought he had awoken in a Slayer concert. He was quite bad, actually. So was I&W’s second guitarist, a fellow named Patrick — seemed very limited. Maybe it was only in comparison to Calexico, who whatever one thinks of them are seasoned pros and veteran session guys, but I&W sounded amateurish. They spent endless hours tuning between songs. Sam Beam had never played publicly until a couple years ago, and it felt like it.
On the plus side, Sam’s sister Sarah, who sings backup, is really quite cute, as noted by a commenter in my last Calexico/Iron & Wine post. Which brings us to the first (and perhaps last) installment of Who Dat Backup Singer?, the non-regular feature in which, after attending an indie-rock concert, I interpret the appearance of the bands’ backup singer via pop-culture references.
– Iron & Wine (Sarah Beam): Wonkette‘s Ana Marie Cox, plus five years and a cigarette habit.
Finally, for the record: Sam Beam appears to have moved to the Austin area, so be on the lookout for him on Sixth Street. He’s the guy with the beard.

3 thoughts on “calexico/iron & wine review”

  1. I was at the Iron & Wine/Calexico show as well. I really enjoyed every minute of it. This was really my first exposure to Calexico and I have to say that I was very impressed. Of course, Sam Beam was magnificent.

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