FEB. 24, 2006
BRANDON DURHAM of Palaxy Tracks
I started off my night of two concerts at Schubas (with three acts) with a short mostly solo set by the guy usually known as Palaxy Tracks. I have to admit not being that familiar with his music; I’ve heard some of it, and it intrigues me a little bit — without exciting me all that much. I enjoyed his set, which apparently focused on new material, but I’d have to hear these songs again to decide just how much I like them. He was joined by three other musicians during the course of the quiet set.
Okkervil River is a very good band, with Will Sheff being the dominant force… It’s not quite one of those solo projects masquerading as a band, but this is definitely Sheff’s show. So it was interesting to see him perform a solo concert, playing some of those same songs that I’ve heard Okkervil River play with extravagant energy. Some of the songs were quite different in the solo guitar or piano format, and some new songs sounded great. He also threw in a cover of Sandy Denny’s “Solo.” I have to say it was quite a powerful performance. I like the group arrangments that Okkervil River plays in concert and on record, but I might like Sheff’s solo versions even better. He really bared his emotions tonight.
The late concert began with Michael Morris. I had no idea who this guy was, but was pleasantly surprised… This was this Minneapolis singer-songwriter’s first performance in Chicago. He reminded me of the Okkervil River/Bright Eyes school of intensely sung folk music. His songs had strong melodies, and I definitely want to hear more from him.
I know Phil from my old days at The Daily Illini. It was nice to see him and his group getting a fairly high-profile opening slot for the Deadstring Brothers concert at Schubas tonight — and to see the group back with a new drummer, Tom Jasek, after the tragic death of drummer Tim Rutkowski a year ago. Plus, they rocked.
The Deadstring Brothers definitely have an early-’70s Stones thing going, plus a couple of songs that obviously mimic The Band and Bob Dylan. But the lack of originality doesn’t bother me much with these guys, because it’s such fun to hear them play. Lead singer Kurt Marschke acknowledged they band is stuck in a 1970s time warp, but he doesn’t care, either. They’re a fine addition to the Bloodshot Records roster, and I liked hearing the songs I’ve come to know well from the new record Starving Winter Report.Hearing the older songs persuaded me that I need to pick up their first album, too.