Alexa Woodward has a knack for producing a blend of melancholy, yet carefree Americana. She opened the evening to a standing-room-only crowd at Dark Room and was joined by Kevin Mavis and Lauren Stapleton of Mountain Homes for part of her set. There’s an air of adolescent mischief and silliness that radiates from Alexa Woodward, and she is as genuinely nice in person as she seems on stage. Near the end of the show she had the audience howling during the chorus of Wolves. I couldn’t help but think of being in elementary school again and anyone who has yearned for a return to innocence and imagination will realize just how significant a complement that is.
Mountain Homes followed with a rousing set of indie folk that channeled the nostalgia of a time well before their own. Those who managed to be at the front of the crowd would have found themselves an intimate part of the show and possibly invited to grab a microphone. Admittedly inebriated front man, Will Wong, seemed to be having the time of his life and banjo-player, Jason Hudson wasn’t far behind him. Midway through the show Jason broke into Bela Fleck’s, Star of the County Down, which left me beaming. In an age where it has become fashionable for almost anyone to don a banjo on stage it was a brilliant surprise to see someone play the strings off of one. Mountain Homes know how to have a good time and how to bring the audience along for the ride.
Ever since Dark Room founders, Shea Bahnsen and Daniel McCord told me that Air Review was returning I had been counting down the days. Their debut album, Low Wishes, has become one of my favorite albums of 2013. Douglas Hale introduced the band as “four guys who sing like girls,” and that was being modest. Angels would be a more apt comparison. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a bunch of guys from Dallas, Texas but neither is heavenly, majestic or pristine – all of which befit Air Review. Low Wishes is filled with gentle songs that were meticulously recreated live. They create spaces that can be felt as if you could move through the different instrumental parts by traversing the room. All that is needed is there and nothing more and it’s as much about what they leave out that contributes to the dynamics of their music. The earnestness of the performance was not lost on their cover of Blur’s Tender either. I was grateful to be one of the privileged few to be in attendance.
*A special thanks to my new friend, Chris Guirl, who contributed the photos for this post.
“Chris is a single dad, software developer, home-brewer, and photographer from Greenville, SC. He has eclectic taste in music and would totally hang out with you sometime.”