There are few bands on this planet with the guts to go on the road,
stripping down their band to an "acoustic" ensemble and
playing sets chosen (mostly) by fans. The Trashcan Sinatras
are brave and talented enough to do just that, and they do it wonderfully.
Opening the early show was local Denver band Still Light.
Having never heard of them before I was very pleasantly surprised
with their set. They are a very mellow five piece ensemble; two guitars,
drums, cello, and keyboards/xylophone. And I do mean ensemble
they are much more that than a simple rock band. Their sound approaches
the edges of Mojave 3, with a very Southwestern flavor, but
orchestrated and larger and much more mellow. One might even imagine
that this is what Grant Lee Buffalo would sound like if they
were drained of all the rock energy that that band maintains and some
strings were added in for effect
and vocalist Kirill Nikolai
almost sounds like the most melancholy moments of Lloyd Cole.
His voice blends beautifully with local songstress Jessica Dye,
who played keys and xylophone in the band. Perhaps it is the lack
of a bass that makes the band seem so laid back
but this is
a beautifully understated, but entirely full sound; airy and dark
The Trashcans came out on stage and played quite a nice little set.
The classic and essential line-up was in attendance for this tour.
Frank Reader sang and played acoustic guitar. John Douglas
played acoustic guitar and sang a bit while Paul Livingston played
electric guitar and Stephen Douglas played percussion. The
set drew heavily from the latest release, In The Music, but
also contained songs from older records like Cake and even
a few songs from A Happy Pocket. The band seemed to be having
a great time despite some early set technical difficulties with Frank's
in-ear monitors. His comment? He doesn't understand why Colorado isn't
cooperating with him, he loves it here
he even admits to watching
South Park. The band launched into a great set of music and
were in great form, as the tour is winding down and preparing to wrap
nearly a month of dates has really fine-tuned the show.
But not everything was by the book or clean, as Paul let his guitarwork
fall apart on the ending of "Hayfever", getting discordant
and noisome. John introduced "Only Tongue Can Tell" by commenting,
" Here's an old man coming round the corner
proceeding to rock it out pretty good and then take lead vocal duties
on "The Sleeping Policeman". This song was really a nice
treat for the evening, the guitars getting loose and bluesy, falling
in and out of time and creating an enormous amount of tension. Frank
let us know that the incredibly beautiful "I See The Moon"
had Japanese connections and so was dedicated to their Japanese friends.
At times it was striking how this band is nmot that much different
acoustic than they are electric
certainly raw volume plays a
part, but the lighter rhythm section is the only real difference.
The lack of drum kit and bass guitar eases things up a bit and robs
many bands of their power, but the Trashcan Sinatras have equal amounts
of power whether playing a soft intimate show or a full-blown rock
It was nice to see the band playing songs that are mostly requested
by audience members and calling out the requester's name before or
after the songs that they play. This band has thrived throughout the
years not because of major label album contracts but because of fans
and their desire to experience everything that this band has to give.
It is obvious that this band is well loved and has a strong connection
to their fans, doing all that they can to make audience members feel
like they are more involved than a traditional audience member might
be. Submit your request
it might get played. For "Apples
& Oranges" Frank pulled his iPad out and called up a synthesizer
app. He plays the little virtual keyboard throughout the song, only
handing it off to an audience member during the last minute or so
of the song. The girl did very well playing along on the "keyboard"
while the band wrapped the tune up and Frank howled away
the band has involved a fan in a special way. In addition to the heavy
involvement that the crowd played in the set list and show, it was
enjoyable to see the band having some fun with the songs and being
fairly loose. Lyrics were changed and arrangements were switched up
to keep things fresh and exciting for the long-time fans.
The set list ran a little something like this:
1. Easy On The Eye
2. All The Dark Horses
4. I Hung My Harp Upon The Willows
5. Only Tongue Can Tell
6. Send For Henny
7. The Sleeping Policeman
8. I See The Moon
10. Wild Mountainside
11. How Can I Apply?
12. Oranges & Apples
13. Obscurity Knocks
15. Twisted And Bent
There were definitely naysayers in the crowd who were disappointed
with the set list, and would have liked to have heard more of their
but the danger in a show where the songs are mostly
picked by audience members is that not everyone is going to get to
hear their own favorites. Regardless of what songs the band ran through,
they were splendidly rendered and it was a beautiful night of music.
The Walnut Room, Denver, CO
March 28, 2011
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