The Ogden Theatre opened its doors at 8 p.m. last night to Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps with Trampled By Turtles headlining. With the temperature around 65 degrees and some bluegrass on the docket, it seemed like a promising sign that perhaps winter might finally be getting pushed aside by the smiling face of spring. Shorts-wearing folk fans held down the block, and the only fools on this night were the ones who missed the show.
The Ogden was packed by 9:30 when Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps opening up. From the front barricade to the upstairs back wall, it pretty much stayed that way for the remainder of the evening between set breaks and encores.
Smith allows her voice to hang on each line, strikingly similar to the sultry Norah Jones, making sure to emphasize the right syllable in each word with just the right note, displayed beautifully in "Lack of Heights" and her closing song, "Denim Boy." The response at the end of her set was one of clear satisfaction from the crowd, but the slow repetitive chant of "Trampled By Turtles" was starting to slither its way from the front to back. Smith and the Good Night Sleeps closed, packed up and gave everyone a breather for TxT before heading back to her merchandise booth for a meet and greet.
Then Trampled By Turtles took the stage, opening with "It's a War," a fast paced jam showcasing Ryan Young's impressive staccato fiddle playing. Throughout the night Young's playing took center stage on several songs like "Wait So Long," which greeted with much applause and dancing.
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"Still in Love With You" brought the pace down a few notches from the upbeat opening and lead into an even slower lullaby that sent a spread of contagious yawns throughout. There was a clear balance of the tempos with smooth transitions on songs like "Victory" and "Codeine." And what better way to transition from the lows to the highs with a hook like "Codeine, Codeine/You're the nicest thing I've seen/For awhile, for awhile."
Despite the high energy in the building, when TxT went deep into its slower songs, like the harmonica riddled "Bloodshot Eyes," everyone's lids became noticeably heavy. The encore started with a cover of Neil Young's "Pocahontas," and then bassist Tim Saxhoug took the lead on Tears For Fears' cover of "Mad World," inserting his personal pitch changes on the hook and carrying the notes just a little bit longer to keep pace with the flood of mandolin plucks.
Common talk among the sold-out crowd was the Whomp Truck after hours down in the Santa Fe art district, a complete and total contrast to the organic sounds we had all just been blessed with listening to.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: I'll take a bluegrass string quintet on a warm spring evening whenever I can. The music is positive, and the people are happy. Random Detail: Erik Berry came out just after the show to take pictures and walk around in the crowd. He personally delivered a set-list to someone and happily smiled for the cameras.