Sextet big on sound
By KEN MAIURI
- Sextet big on sound
By KEN MAIURI
Thursday, December17, 1998 -- I have no idea if the six all-star
musicians who make up the band Golden Smog have been best friends for ages, but after
watching them play, I'd guess they have. The sextet - Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, Dan Murphy
of Soul Asylum, Gary Louris and Marc Perlman of the Jayhawks, Kraig
of Run Westy Run, and Jody Stephens of the hugely influential early -
Big Star - played a raw set at Pearl Street on Dec. 7, that was as
strong as it was
If the essence of the band can be boiled down to one member, it's
was responsible for most of the show's fun, loose energy. He sang an
song called "Pecan Pie.'' He made stream-of-consciousness between-song
comments, mostly about aging classic rockers trying to be hip by
raps to their old classic rock hits. He wandered across the stage
lazily shaking a
tambourine during the song "Reflections On Me,'' with a cigarette
his mouth, leaping towards a microphone when he realized it was his
time to add
backing vocals. Of all the laid-back band members, he was taking the
advantage of the spirit of the evening.
Not that the rest of Golden Smog was all work and no play - every one
band members was in constant motion on stage, trading instruments,
conversations, hanging out. They all worked well as a unit, too.
Murphy was the
hard-rocking guitarist, leaning into the microphone and strumming his
punk energy. Stephens filled the legend spot in the lineup, the cult
hero in the
back bringing historical weight to the group along with his solid
Louris was the melodramatic one, with the epic minor-key rockers; his
the microphone made for the night's most powerful moments. Perlman was
quiet guy, staying out of the spotlight and simply playing his bass.
was the spacey slacker of the bunch, often singing off-key and
on the tune "He's a Dick.'' Put 'em together and you've got a sloppy
The six musicians didn't just go through the motions - every band
contributed to every song, joining in on some sort of instrument
keyboard or tambourine or harmonica) and adding to the loose mood.
there were as many as four guitars being played at once, making a
sound that was
ragged around the edges, but also rich and full. The songs themselves
(not always the case with these super-group things), making the most
out of a
mid-tempo groove. And besides such worthy originals as "Ill Fated''
"Looking Forward to Seeing You,'' the group pulled out an old cover
"Glad and Sorry.'' As the band members announced afterwards, "That's a
by The Faces . . . before they sucked.'' And that was the way the
Golden Smog went: no rock star attitude, just six guys making noise.
A quiet night at the Bay State
Next door at the Bay State Hotel, there wasn't much noise at all.
the two main bands of the evening, Essex Green and Fan Modine, got
car trouble in New York City and canceled their Northampton gig. Not
Mitchells - the other band on the night's bill - minded; the
quartet got to expand their set to headliner length and treat the
audience to one of their strongest performances in recent memory. They
old stuff like "Underwater'' and "Tree,'' new stuff like "Flashlight
even some untitled instrumental works-in-progress. They made the most
weird situation, and ended up (just like Golden Smog) giving a fun,
that didn't skimp on big rock energy.