What is it like to be praised on one hand and completely loathed on the other? The only other man able to answer that question besides George W. Bush, would probably be Joan Of Arc front man Tim Kinsella.
For close to fifteen years Kinsella has made music, under several different aliases, that has both challenged the listener and defied characterization, as well as expectation. This has caused him to swing wildly in the press from indie darling to eternal pariah. Billed tonight with two other great bands, Kinsella showed why, for the most part, anyone who tries to define his music is usually wrong.
Opening up the night was local fave d.biddle, who brought a twist on the quiet/loud dynamic by adding melodies and sonics that held the room in a stasis throughout its set. One of the most impressive things about this band live, at least to my ears, is the interplay between guitarist and chief songwriter Duncan Barlow and guitarist Jeff Davenport, which provides the perfect languid backdrop for Barlow’s somewhat baroque, sometimes grand vocals. And while the band certainly has a formula, that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable going down.
Bridging the gap was Salt Lake City upstart Future of the Ghost. Like a hit of crack after an early evening of wine and cheese, Future of the Ghost hit the ground running and didn’t look back. Drummer Kathy Foy seemed to propel the band from simply fast to dynamic, with shifts that played perfectly into the band's angular songs. A lockbox combination of jagged guitars and martial rhythms, Future of the Ghost played a streaming set of rockers that recall the best moments of underground rock over the last three decades.
Having seen Joan Of Arc twice before, I was curious as to which band I was to encounter tonight. Would it be the four-piece unit that blew me away oh so long ago? Or, would it be the bloated seven-piece outfit that couldn’t play a song, not so long ago? A happy medium was struck when the outfit appeared with five members, including Kinsella, and played songs from the last ten years of its existence.
The set served as a great overview of all the band's material, including some more straight-ahead songs from the new album Boo Human. Kinsella and his mates were loose and enjoying themselves, which made the songs flow perfectly, one to the next. Even with the distraction of some jackass yelling throughout the set, the band struck a nice balance of what makes them best: thoughtful, yet good songs. Whether you like Tim Kinsella, or not (or just don’t care), tonight at least, in the caustic glow of the hi-dive lights, he played the role that he is best at, front man for a great rock band.
-- Jeremy Brashaw
Critic’s Notebook Random Detail: As this was a 16+ show, hi-dive had the main stage area fenced off during d.biddle’s set to the people who were drinking. I swear, for a second, it felt like something out of Headbangers' Ball. Then d.biddle started playing and the fence simply became an inconvenience. By the Way: d.biddle is having its CD release show at Hi-Dive on Friday, June 13, with Bad Weather California.