Wadirum, Elizabeth Rose, Benyaro Saturday, July 19, 2008, Meadowlark Better than: The weather this weekend.
First a bit of confusion; sitting at the downstairs bar, The Meadowlark, we see what could ostensibly be the stage. Granted, the show tonight was going to be of the singer-songwriter variety, so a small stage should work, but there is absolutely no one there. I go back to the bathroom and hear the strains of something called music, I see the exit and I am transported to an upstairs bar with a backyard feel. So this is the real Meadowlark, and the set up had us ready to hear some music.
Fully ensconced, and in the right place, we waited for the opening act Benyaro. Benyaro is actually the nom-de-guerre of folky and Brooklynite Ben Musser, and sometime collaborator Tucker Yaro. Reminiscent of nothing more than the folk singer whose guitar is destroyed by John Belushi in Animal House, Musser played sweet sensitive ballads that were almost humorous in their predictability. Combine all that with Musser’s ridiculous hyping between every song, and his set grew tedious around the third song. Completely harmless, Musser and Co. will be the cream of the College Freshman set whenever people get tired of Dave Matthews.
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Drinks were needed after that so we grab a couple in the air-conditioned downstairs. After feeling refreshed we came back waiting for something musical to clean the taste out from the set before. Cue local Elizabeth Rose, whom along with drummer Tony Morales, crafted a set that was tight and well-executed. Once again, the set lived or died on what Rose could do with a style of music that can, at times, be predictable. Her set, while short, was pleasurable, and when she and Morales locked horns in a tight groove, the music was both affecting and graceful.
The strains of the rock music near-by Larimer Lounge cut through the air, a stark contrast to the beginning of Wadirum’s set which floated softly just above the air. Playing from the point of strength, the vocals of Stewart Ehrlich and Jill Pilon, Wadirum’s set took in the audience and held it tight, with eerie ballads and folk numbers so organic they seemed to be growing right before the crowds eyes. Even though the band played with several elements (jazz, lounge, folk, etc.) they seemed to do it with a deft hand that made it sound easy. While not every song worked, and the middle of the band’s set sagged a bit, Wadirum showed the audience, and this crusty critic, that they are definitely something to be celebrated. -- Jeremy Brashaw
Critic’s Notebook Personal Bias: Not usually a fan of the whole outdoor show thing, but the Meadowlark provided a great atmosphere that was both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Random Detail: I slapped the guy next to me who kept calling Elizabeth Rose “Fiona Apple-lite.” Not true. By the Way: Wadirum’s Letters I Never Plan to Mail, the whole reason for tonight’s proceedings, is available now.