The Knew, Light Travels Faster, The Get Down January 12, 2008 Lion's Lair Better Than: Watching the false pageantry of another Patriots win.
Popping into the Lion's Lair on Saturday night, I marveled at how much the bar has changed since I first started making my way in there with a fake ID toward the end of the last millennium. The bar hasn't moved and it still attracts the odd down-on-his-luck-anything-helps-God-Bless stumbler. Even so, the place is noticeably on the upswing. Ever since Sarah Levin assumed booking duties, things have gotten a hell of a lot better, and Saturday's bill was just about perfect.
First up was a newer, unproven act called the Get Down. The bass-and-drums duo played a brand of metallic blues that doesn't seem to have reached its full potential quite yet. While their songs are interesting enough, the execution of the pair's performance didn't quite carry the tunes. Communication between the twosome was like that of new lovers in bed: The raw energy was there, but they don't know each well enough yet to make truly beautiful music.
Light Travels Faster, meanwhile, took it up a notch with its fine-tuned post rock. The outfit's sound stokes the flames of a loud-soft-loud tension with fragmented yet layered and intricate songs that are immeasurably influenced by Pavement and Lonesome Crowded West-era Modest Mouse. Frontman Christopher Rigel knows just the right dischords to choke from his axe to match the precise and driving rhythm of bassist Todd Spriggs and drummer Kyle Fuller. Clearly these players know all the cues and intricate changes of their complicated compositions. However, the mix often fails to pack the punch the band intends. The soft-to-blistering progression they strive for often skips the in-between dynamics that made their heroes' work so captivating.
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The members of the Knew must know they have something special. The guys take the stage with a quiet confidence, a few smiles between them seem, as if to say, “These people don't know what they're in for.” Either that or they're just as excited to play each show as I'm now going to be at the thought of seeing them perform again from here on out. From start to finish, the band put on a nearly perfect set, low on improvisation but high on an infectious energy. The group's rootsy, bluesy, punk-infused sound compiles rock history in five-minute increments, while managing to push the sound in new directions.
What's more, Jacob Hansen is the consummate frontman, belting out pitch-perfect howls while nimbly providing the audience with precise and astonishing leads that are creative without lapsing into self-indulgent wankery. Hansen's presence is augmented by guitarist Tyler Breuer's tight rhythm playing, Patrick Bowden's astounding drumming, vocals and harmonica and bassist Tim Rynder's driving, low-end. On stage, the Knew brings it like few bands I have ever seen. Those who haven't seen the band yet are missing out.
-- Sean Cronin
Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: I am a sucker for anyone who can play slide and lead on a hollow body like Hansen can. Random Detail: The woman next to me who insisted on arguing with her boyfriend all night has to come up with a better insult than “fag.” Your relationship is doomed if you can't even argue creatively. By the Way: The Knew plays February 2 at hi-dive, February 8 at Platte Canyon High School and February 15 at Larimer Lounge.