It's been said that the mark of a truly great band is the ability to deliver the same caliber performance in front of virtually nobody as you would for a crowd of thousands. Gared O'Donnell from Planes Mistaken for Stars didn't just subscribe to this notion, he lived it. Emily Francis, who managed Planes for years, once told me that even if there was only a handful of kids in the audience, O'Donnell would give it his all regardless to keep from letting those kids down. Last night at the Marquis Theater, I witnessed the same type of zeal from the guys in Lion Sized. It was freaking incredible.
Undeterred by the fact that by the time they hit the stage there were only about a dozen or so people on hand, including me, Sweetie, Matt Fecher, Kyle Simmons from Speakeasy, Tiger and the guys from Big Timber -- who showed equally as much verve for a crowd that wasn't much bigger -- the threesome turned in perhaps one of the most outstanding and impassioned performances I've ever seen from them.
The band kicked off its set with "Lost Limbs," and then proceded to power through a full set, with virtually no banter or in between song lulls. Near the end of the set, as we watched frontman Josh Bergstrand wind up his arm furiously like Townsend while grimacing at drummer Rob Burleson, who played like a man possessed, himself locked into the groove with bassist Shane Trost, you'd have sworn that the room was bursting at capacity.
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Trust me: speaking from experience, this is no easy task. In another life, I once played a gig in Eugene, Oregon, in front of the barstaff, the other band and their girlfriends. At first it was deflating, but then I just closed my eyes and let her rip and got completely lost in the music. It was probably one of the most invigorating moments of my life.