The four-piece backing band, who played with him at Tonic in January, are a different aesthetic than the indie pop mastery of Clay Your Hands Say Yeah. The outfit play in a traditional folk style with some country-western flourishes with the steel guitar.
The show started with Alec with his acoustic guitar and harmonica. His voice is more suited to perform traditional folk in the vein of Woody Guthrie. I've always scratched my head when people compare his voice to David Byrne. I don't hear it. In any event, I realized tonight that the man is a fine guitar player -- very skilled. I know that this music is more up his alley before Clap Your Hands became a success. If anything, the notoriety affords him to play these solo gigs to show off his skills and his passion for roots/folk music.
After three songs, the band comes out to pick up the tempo a bit. While it's not "Yee Haw!" and throw your beer glass against the wall type of energy, it's a calming middle-of-the-road type of twang. When the band first chimed in, it was startling and dynamic because it kicked off the rest of the set with a little gusto. One of the songs was called "Idiots in the Rain," a rousing ditty which featured Alec's signature voice breaking over a steel guitar and fiddle.
He did come out for an encore, which was strange to us bloggers sitting together (Laura of Modern Age, Jen of Music Slut and Dan of Who's Driving the Bus). It was just Alec solo and we heard phrases like "Your girlfriend said that you were 18" and "Come up to my motel room, sleep with me." We all looked at each other like "What?" Alec told us after the show that it's a Loudon Wainwright song called "Motel Blues." Here's the lyrics:
In this town television shuts off at two
What can a lonely rock & roller do
Oh the bed's so big and the sheets are clean
and your girlfriend said that you were 18
The Styrofoam ice bucket is full of ice
Come up to my motel room treat me nice
I don't wanna make no late night New York calls
and I don't wanna stare at them ugly grassmatt walls
chronologically I know you're young
but when you kissed me in the club you bit my tongue
I'll write a song for you, I'll put it on my next L.P
Come up to my motel room, sleep with me !
There's a Bible in the drawer don't be afraid
I'll put up the sign to warn the cleanup maid
Yeah there's lots of soap end there's lots of towels
never mind them desk clerk's scowls
I buy you breakfast, they'll think you're my wife
Oh come up to my motel room, save my life
Come up to my motel room, save my life
He told us that he that it's not autobiographical, he just likes it.
The brief set was interesting to watch having become accustomed to the Clap Your Hands phenomena. It was always good for a musician to mix-up his repertoire. Tonight performance shows that there is many sides to the man, not just D.I.Y. indie rock frontman.
I saw this on the side of the stage. Don't know what it's all about.