Nickel Creek at the CAC
I skipped out of peacefriday early yesterday and Liv, Brandin, Larry and I cruised out to the CAC early to get a good parking spot, and to partake of whatever free refreshments and WVU swag could be had there at the President's reception. It's fall family weekend, e'en though once could scarcely call it fall by any def. Not much terribly refreshing going on, but we scoobed some free Tshirts (yellow, which makes every wearer look extra attractive, dontcha think? not). Got some cookies, coffee, carrots, ate our Subway sandwiches, and listened to the drum line out in front of the lobby.
|Listening to:||Eveline, Nickel Creek|
|Reading:||Choke, Chuck Palahniuk|
But when 7p rolled around we headed in to find our seats. Nice, 2d row after the big middle aisle, slightly stage right. But we all noted about the 8th time we had to stand up to let folks past us, that when they remodeled perhaps they should have made a center aisle vertically, since the rows are about 50 seats across with no way in but from either end. bla bla bla
No opening act. The trio of Sara and Sean Watkins, and Chris Tile were accompanied by an upright bass player (I have no idea what his name was, but he was damn good, and even tap danced one tune). The musicianship was outstanding all night. All these kids are not just fine players, but have a bizarrely mature and broad musical sensibility about them. Especially Chris Tile, the mando playing front man. Sara was probably the weakest, though her fiddling was good just not mindblowing like the others, and her voice is light sweet and lovely, a perfect complement. The played a one straight ahead bluegrass tune (a Jimmy Rodgers tune as arranged by Bill Monroe, might it have been Train Whistle Blues?) as a final encore, sweetly gathered around one condenser mic oldschool style. The rest of the show was that special newgrass-plus style that is uniquely Nickel Creek. It's an amalgam of light shades of jazz and funk, soaring pop-style vocals ala Jason Mraz or John Mayer, celtic fiddletunish melodies and descants, dissonant as well as high lonesome vocal harmonies, clean open acoustic arrangements, newgrass changes, and mathematical rhythm switches like King Crimson or Aquarium Rescue Unit. So out there on occasion, at one point I turned to Larry and said "what? Space but no Drumz?" Ask a deadhead friend about that if it's meaningless to you.
They played a mix of old, new, and covers, with plenty of new. Nice balance of slow hard groove, lightning fiddletunes, a swaying country waltz. Plenty of lovely vocals, several tricky instrumentals, a little fun and games. They laughed about the fact that there's no space in MySpace, and bemoaned the decay of the english language as brought about by IM, like a skein of old biddies.
I can't tell you the actual setlist, but I remember a few tunes in no particular order: When In Rome, This Side, Reasons Why, House of Tom Bombadil (I think), Scotch and Chocolate, The Fox (with a few verses and choruses of The Weight in the middle), Toxic (yes, Britney Spears!), Short People (yes, Randy Newman), Anthony, Somebody More Like You, Best of Luck, Spit on a Stranger (I think I remember this), House Carpenter, Ode to a Butterfly. Missing conspicuously was The Lighthouse, and for me Eveline from the new album, which I particularly like.
The encores were also truly wonderful. Each came out to do a solo tune, Chris played the fugue from the A minor Bach violin partita, and that was pretty damn kickass. Sean played some very new tune, as yet unrecorded, to which he had added a fresh bridge. And Sara accompanied herself on ukulele (a word which lost me the 4th grade spelling bee, no shit) and sang a sweet and committed Different Drum, which she explained she used to sing with her mom. Then they all accompanied the bass player on one of his original tunes, something rather forgettable, but enjoyable enough in the moment.
Sadly these guys are breaking up, but I'm glad I had the chance to catch this awesome show.
posted by cat 8:11 PM