After an impossibly long week, I had hoped that last Saturday’s show at the Cat’s Cradle would be great. I was in no way prepared for the powerful emotional journey I would experience. Each band attempted impossibly, yet successfully, to up the ante of intensity by giving a more impassioned and stirring performance than the previous band. Incredibly, even with their considerable body of recorded material, all three groups performed better live than on their albums.
Peter Wolf Crier took the stage first and stunned with their short and blistering set. Peter Pisano and drummer Brian Moen played with soulful, biting fervor. At times the duo’s dynamics recalled the consonance of the drums-and-guitar pair Dodos, but for most of the show, Pisano dominated the stage; the very air in the room became an extension of his body. Like a stationary one-man band, his myriad of amplifiers and effects pedals became a playground for his manic and maximalist compositions.
Crier’s performance would have been tough for any band to follow, but Midlake followed in stride. Appropriately, the band walked onstage just as Fairport Convention’s brilliant rendition of “Tam Lin” faded to a close over the venue’s speakers. A pastoral, electric folk ballad, “Tam Lin” is exactly the sort of song that underlies Midlake’s sound.
The seven musicians crowded the front of the stage in the best approximation of a democracy they could muster. Singer Tim Smith began the set crouched low in a folding chair, his presence subdued until the songs began to take shape. As guitar lines melded with flutes, close vocal harmonies and restrained drumming, the songs would weave and swell into evocatively textured sonic tapestries.
Rogue Wave took the stage without much fanfare. With their intentions clearly set on playing great songs, the band impressed with their joyous musicianship and their impeccable craft. Even after two great performances leading up to their set, Rogue Wave was the highlight of the night. Zach Rogue played with a fiery glint in his eye, and his bandmates deftly followed his every move. Fan favorites such as “Eyes” didn’t simply soar, they filled the room with their beauty. As I drove home later that night, I realized something: this is why I go to concerts—to be moved.