We Should Be Reading Steinbeck

On Saturday night, I saw Thao with The Get Down Stay Down at the Boot in Norfolk, and it was way cool.  I have to be honest and tell you I did zero pre-show research so I had no idea who was opening for them.  Openers are such an interesting thing, there is so much hope and so much room for disappointment.

Thankfully, Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers (and Sister Suvi, but I’ll get to them later on) did not disappoint.  I would dub them as the up-and-coming artist to watch, as Hampton Roads hasn’t really caught on to the indie music scene, but Paste and Rolling Stone have already done that, and so I think we can all agree that the rich, dark folk rock band is already here.  Actually, this is another instance where I am beating myself up for not having listened to them earlier, and I’ll beat you up too if you don’t listen now.

The band’s twangy guitar and touch of tambourine and harmonica give their music a definite country roots feel (read Steinbeck as you listen!), but the depth of form and sound deny association with the country genre as we know it.  For instance, is that muted trumpet on “Bananafish Revolution”?  Despite the moodiness, which is actually quite therapeutic (for me at least, but maybe many things are therapeutic for me), it isn’t so dark–the catchy “Rising Sun” has been stuck in my head all day, and “Get the Fever Out” may be better described as playfully dark.  Samantha’s voice, I believe, is what makes this moodiness both therapeutic and contagious, with its strength undiminished by its tremors and lovely sighs.  I must say that at the show, one of my favorite things ever was watching that tiny girl dance around and play  harmonica and sing her guts out.  My new goal is to become best friends with her, stat!

Also, if you know anything about me, you know how much I appreciate lyrical genius.  If you don’t know this, read more of my reviews and you will soon find out!  Samantha Crain and the Midnight Shivers are brilliant songwriters; their lyrics truly are poetry.  “Traipsing Through The Aisles” contain some of my favorite of the bands’ lyrics– “even shadows sleep tonight/but a bit of orphaned light will/make its home on beds of nails and nightmares/when dust clouds o’er the sun/a web of confusion is by spiders crawling faster towards redemption.”  Also, not to be a lyric whore or anything, “Beloved We Have Expired”–  “accidents happen but you never did/i’m the forgotten change in your pocket/of the old winter coat/the newspapers stackin’, neat fold/oh, to be held again/to be spent or read/put aside again/That would be the greatest thing…”

Gahh it’s so beautiful!!!  Go listen. Buy the album.  Read the wonderful things Paste and Rolling Stone have to say.  Read Steinbeck.  Weep.  Oh also, here’s a video of “Traipsing Through The Aisles” for you.


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