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Julia Mullen Gordon

The Love Language

High Dive

Saturday, Feb. 19

Sometimes there must be an awkward gap before the "official" start of a tour.

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The Love Language Show the Louder Side of Lo-Fi, Saturday at High Dive

LL.jpg
Julia Mullen Gordon

The Love Language

High Dive

Saturday, Feb. 19

Sometimes there must be an awkward gap before the "official" start of a tour. That's the only explanation that springs to mind for The Love Language's slightly bizarre booking at the High Dive in Fremont on Saturday night. The Raleigh, N.C.-based project, led by frontman Stuart McLamb, kicked off a big national tour with their Merge Records labelmates Telekinesis the following night at the Doug Fir in Portland. Which makes sense. Because you don't normally see an act as tight and professional as The Love Language, signed to one of the most powerful indies in the country, at a venue that rarely books national acts, and with only local opening bands. Heck, Archers of Loaf opened for them at their first reunion show. But you scratch your head, thank the gods for the cheap ticket, and go check it out.

Though the room was only partially full by the time The Love Language took the stage, the band took no notice or time to warm up, kicking off their set with an impassioned version of "Two Rabbits" from their 2009 self-titled debut before launching into that album's hit, "Lalita." McLamb's croon turned to a ragged scream as keyboard player Missy Thangs bounded around the stage like a lamb with a tambourine. Playing as a five-piece with drums, bass, keys, and guitar (their lineup can swell to as many as nine at hometown shows, according to a former Raleigh resident in the audience), each song exploded like a perfectly designed pop bomb. Their stripped-down lineup is deceiving: They have a simple setup but a lot going on. Hints of bright '60s lounge, strum-happy country, and early-oughts garage peeked through, especially on songs like "Heart io Tell" off last year's Libraries. Their broad scope reminded me a bit of the Magnetic Fields' ambitious songwriting or Vampire Weekend's melting-pot pop, but the fuzzy production that marks their recordings vanished, leaving behind a seamless, slick, and, most important, loud rock band.

They didn't waste time. After playing a new song (called only "New" on the set list, dang!) and a brief encore, they bid the crowd adieu. The show ended when what began as a butterfly of sweat at the drummer's neckline had soaked the whole T-shirt. With that level of sweaty enthusiasm, one can only imagine bigger things to come, and wish them well now their "real" tour has started.

The crowd: KEXP listeners? It was kind of a random bunch. All I know is that at one point, there must have been about 30 iPhones taking pictures.

 
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