A belated concert report… I saw a double bill of the Constantines and Oakley Hall last week (April 24) at the Empty Bottle. It felt a little strange, since the first time I saw both of these bands was back on Jan. 15, 2005, when Oakley Hall was opening for the Constantines at, yep, you guessed it, the Empty Bottle. I loved both bands when I saw them in 2005, and I’ve expecting big things from both. Somehow, neither band has gained quite as large of a following yet as it deserves, but they were still going strong last week.
Still going strong in Oakley Hall’s case meant playing with an incredibly shrinking lineup. I’m not sure what has happened, but Oakley Hall was down to just three musicians for its show at the Bottle, with guitarist-singer Pat Sullivan remarking that the group has been losing members as its tour goes on. Hopefully, that’s just a temporary thing. Some of the Constantines supplemented the Oakley Hall lineup. The result was a less lush and more ragged version of Oakley Hall,, with Sullivan and Rachel Cox switching off on vocals and playing off each other’s guitar lines. Oakley Hall is better with the full band, but this night brought the more aggressive elements of its songs into sharp focus. “Lazy Susan” sounded especially good.
The Constantines have an excellent new album out today, Kensington Heights, which pretty much offers more of what fans have come to expect from this Canadian band after its three previous records: Tough, tense, anthemic rock. The band put on a pretty solid show, although it was not until the last batch of four songs that the group really caught fire, whipping up a frenzy with its guitar riffs and concluding the night with a cover of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” My only disappointment was that the Constantines did not play my favorite song off the new album, “I Will Not Sing a Hateful Song.”