Friday, July 4, 2008

Constantines at the Troubadour. Los Angeles. 7.3.08

I've gradually come to realize that it would be near-impossible to find words that justify my appreciation of the Constantines, a band whose every performance and recording, in my experience, has been utterly perfect. I'm not quite sure what to say, really, except that I'm in love with this band as a complete entity.

Even without the handiwork of second guitarist Steve Lambke, whose damaged hand restricted him to the microphone on “Shower of Stones” and a quick fling with Will Kidman's keyboard before rushing back up to watch from the green room, the band was flawless last night. Finally, there was an opportunity to see them play “Insectivora,” with Dallas Wehrle's bass replacing the horns of the song's noisy climax on Shine a Light, and finally, “Young Offenders,” with Bryan Webb's guitar spread over a wider range of space than on its recorded counterpart, as the set closer we didn't receive at Spaceland two years ago.

It's the little details that make this band – how each man sets up his own, private spot on stage, penetrable by no other band member. Wehrle is 100% in rock-out-with-cock-out mode, legs spread when bass isn't proudly in the air. Multi-instrumentalist Kidman, credited with the “gaudy, dated effects” of recently released Kensington Heights, is an absolute asset to the band's energy, barely able to contain himself at the seat of an instrument which restrains most. And Webb, shielding drummer Doug MacGregor, pours every ounce of himself into his words, straining and snarling with the slightest hook in his lip. Again, it's all so utterly perfect.

With Kidman replacing Lambke on guitar for a good chunk of the set, songs were harder and stripped down to the essentials, though supporting act Ladyhawk lent its guitarist Darcy Hancock for a bit as well, and though there was an encore in which the entirety of Ladyhawk joined the Cons on stage for a skintastic rendition of “Street Fighting Man” that transformed the last few minutes of the show into an official sausage party. It was for this performance that Webb had removed his sweat-stained button-down and revealed a red tank that said “shameless,” matching the upper half of Canadian comrade Hancock and showing himself to be part of a band that's not quite as predictable as they've recently been given credit for.


Anonymous said...

Damn, I waited two years to see these guys, had my ticket, didn't go. (Don't ask.) Thanks for the rundown. Sorry I missed it.

China said...

Had a ticket and didn't go? Shit, I'M sorry you missed it! Maybe they'll be back in ah...another two years?