Concert review: The Trashcan Sinatras, Legendary Scottish Band

Forgive the decision to use first person for this one, but the editorial ‘we’ just doesn’t apply here.

I am not one for acoustic shows. Whenever I see a guy with an acoustic guitar anymore, I want to pull a Bluto and smash it to bits. This from a guy who did an acoustic gig with his brother the weekend of his wedding. I blame Jack Johnson, really. That whole surfer/hippie scratcha scratcha scratcha thing just bores me. Long story short, when I saw that my beloved Trashcan Sinatras were coming to Dayton to play the Canal Street Tavern, I was in. When I saw it was an acoustic show, I was slightly less in.

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Boy, did they show me. Breaking the evening into two sets, and playing requests submitted in advance online by their fans, the Trashcans positively soared. The harmony vocals by the Douglas brothers (Jon on guitar, Stephen on drums) stood out much better in the acoustic setting, and the band shrewdly mixed in a few electric instruments to give the overall sound a little more thump. Smart move, that.

The set list was divine, showcasing each of the band’s five albums relatively equally. From what my friends who saw them in Cleveland said, though, they’re shaking up the set list drastically each night, so you might hear six of the songs they played here. The main focus, of course, was on In the Music, the band’s newest album, from which they played six of the album’s 10 tracks. Guitarist Paul Livingston sat in the back on a chair, staring at his (electric) guitar as if there wasn’t anyone else in the room (think Johnny Greenwood, without the floppy hair), while drummer Stephen Douglas had the coolest “acoustic” drum setup you’ve ever seen. The kick drum was digital, just a pedal with a pre-amp that gave extra impact to the various shakers, bongos, triangles and snare hits (brushes, of course) that he mixed in. Also, he had a tambourine on his left foot. Very cute.

The star of the show, though, was lead singer Frank Reader, whose voice sounds just as pure as it did when the band dropped their debut Cake in 1990. And speaking of Cake, what a nice surprise to hear the band break out not just “Obscurity Knocks” and “Only Tongue Can Tell,” the album’s two singles, but also “Drunken Chorus,” A B-side from the Cake years. The most pleasant surprise, however, was the inclusion of three songs from the band’s rare 1996 album A Happy Pocket (which goes for upwards of 50 bucks on Amazon), finishing the evening with a rousing version of “The Therapist.”

You have to hand it to bands like the Trashcans. The new album isn’t selling because no one buys records anymore (though I saw them sell a few copies at the show), and the tickets were cheap ($12, holler), so they’re probably not making much on those. I hope they’re shifting a lot of merchandise – they were selling flash drives containing the evening’s performance shortly after the show – because it would be a shame to see a band like this pack it in due to financial constraints, especially when they have proven time and again that they still have so much to offer. There are only a few dates left on the tour, so if you live in any of the following cities, go. You shannae regret it.

March 24 St. Louis, Mo Firebird (acoustic)
March 26 Minneapolis, Mn Cedar Cultural Center
March 27 Kansas City, Mo Knuckleheads (acoustic)
March 28 Denver, Co The Walnut Room (acoustic)
March 29 Salt Lake City, Ut The State Room (acoustic)
March 31 Los Angeles, Ca The Bootleg Theater (acoustic)

  

Me, Myself, and iPod 5/26/10: Legendary Scottish band, ahoy!

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The Trashcan Sinatras – People
I love the Trashcan Sinatras. I’m not sure when they went from the Trash Can Sinatras to the Trashcan Sinatras, but oh well, but I’m guessing someone at SPINart fucked it up when putting the artwork for Weightlifting together. Anyway, they’re a fabulous bunch of guys, and God love them for sticking with it after all these years of relative obscurity. This is the first single from their new album In the Music, and it’s another smoove slice of literate jangle pop. If you like this, you should know that the rest of the album is even better.

Kathryn Calder – Slip Away
The newest member of the New Pornographers (she’s lead singer Carl Newman’s niece, and she joined during the sessions for Twin Cinema), Calder is picking a curious time to release a solo album, since she’s tied up with touring with the New Porns for the summer. But one listen to this track from the album Are You My Mother?, due out in August, shows that perhaps Carl and Dan should bring her to the writing table, because I’ll take this over anything on the last New Pornographers album any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Donn T – Look At
Two words: Female Kenna. If that doesn’t immediate ring a couple bells, then I have one word for you: Kenna.

See Green – I Can Change
Well, that didn’t take long. Courtenay Green, who’s fast becoming a regular in these parts, covered “I Can Change” from LCD Soundsystem’s new album This Is Happening. Man, is James Murphy the new Neil Young, where his songs sound infinitely better when covered by other people?

La Roux – Bulletproof (Hyper Crush remix)
Armed with a bass line that will set off car alarms, this mix of La Roux’s “Bulletproof” is totally ADD madness, but it’s cool. And I still haven’t grown tired of that Macintosh voice program.

Clubfeet – Teenage Suicide
If you’re anything like me, you saw that title and immediately sang the words ‘Don’t do it’ in your head, since that was the name of the hit song the DJ played in the movie “Heathers.” Well sure enough, immediately after the breathy male lead sings “Teenage suicide,” two girls shout, “Don’t do it!” Bonus points for reading my mind.

Shadow Shadow – Is This Tempest in the Shape of a Bell
Gotta give some love to the guitar pop set. Man, this would have been huge in 1975.

  

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