Who: The Cave Singers
Where: The Moore
When: Friday, September 26
Far be it from me to make grand, definitive statements like "best. band. ever.", but after last night's performance, I really think the Cave Singers are our best local band...aside from Mudhoney, that is!
The Moore was fairly empty when they took the stage last night around 8 p.m. Initially, I was interested in hearing how they would fill a fancy theater of that size, but by the time Pete Quirk barked the opening lyrics to "Seeds of Night", it was obvious that wouldn't be an issue. Quirk has this idiosyncratic voice that's somewhere between Arlo Guthrie and the buzzing of a mosquito. And, like Bob Dylan, Quirk plays with words, stretching them out and snapping them back as if they are rubberbands ("Oooooh mayBE next TIME"). In a room with acoustics like The Moore, his vocals sounded like they were leaping up to the ceiling and racing through the aisles and back down to the stage. An exciting thing for any set of ears to hear.
As Quirk explained, their set consisted of mostly new songs from a forthcoming album. Quirk joked that it's tentatively titled: Cave Singers On Campus. These new songs were a hell of a lot more breezy and rocking than the intimate, front-porch pluckings of Invitation Songs. As was obvious from their overall stage presence, the Cave Singers are much for confident and comfortable in their sound. I don't think I've ever seen guitarist Derek Fudesco have that much fun onstage, his knees bouncing like it was all he could do to stay seated. Quirk himself was animated, not unlike Will Oldham (heck, Quirk even did some stretches!) Now, they're taking all those elements that made them great (Quirk's vocals and vivid lyrics, Fudesco's steady-rolling finger-picking, and Marty Lund's shuffling and punctuating percussion) and stretching out into more expansive folk-rock territory. For the first time, I noticed how, despite Marty's excellent drumming, Fudesco is really the band's rhythm section. His plucking style is the band's signature element...it's rolls smoothly like Mississippi John Hurt's, has an awesome repetitive blues-drone element like T-Model Ford, and when he strums its recalls Lou Reed's primitive, straightforward rock songs (i.e. "I Can't Stand It Anymore" and "Foggy Notion"). Fudesco, I realized, is sort of like the band's undercurrent. He stays rock-solid throughout, which allows Quirk to play around and explore each corner of their music.
If this performance was any indication of their new record, it's gonna kill! (Note to Matador: Please let them call it Cave Singers On Campus!)