Sunday, December 04, 2005

Wrens 12/03/05 Los Angeles

I've been a Wrens fanatic ever since I first heard them on a mixtape my friend made me in 1995. It was hard to track down their album, Silver, but once I did it became one of my favorites of all time. Still is. I managed to catch them a few times, once for some "indie" show that was being filmed at the Whisky, and another time at The Opium Den, where they were given what seemed like about 20 minutes to play. That was around the time their EP, Abbott 1135, came out. Little did I know it would be several years before I would see them live again.

Thankfully, after years and years of working and reworking songs, they put out The Meadowlands, their first album since 1996, and fans and critics started noticing them. It broke the Wrens to the audience that probably should have noticed them in the first place, and it meant they got to hit the road again. These guys have day jobs and families, so even with their newfound popularity, live shows are pretty rare.

Last night's show was what the Wrens live show has become. Bits of absolute spastic bliss tempered with moments of slow, almost uncomfortable quiet. They kicked off with a Jekyll and Hyde version of This Boy Is Exhausted, very quiet and slow at first with just Charles Bissell singing, breaking into a full sprint by the time the rest of the band fell in. They followed it up with the blistering Shot Rock-Splitter To God, the best "new" song not on Meadowlands.

There was lots of jumping around, Charles with his maniacally fey windmill guitar strumming and striking of the strings up at the headstock for a trademark Wrens sound; Greg the birthday boy running around like a kid on a sugar high and being his usual you-have-no-idea-how-much-fun-we're-having self. Jerry MacDonnell's drumming was as great as ever, and Greg's brother Kevin as usual supplied the perfect 2nd guitar and backing vocal parts. The biggest treat for me was the encore, when they played two songs from Silver, Napiers and Broken. Broken is a slow song, but it always hits me hard, waves of crescendoing chords with a high guitar part that sounds like seagulls atop those waves. I left satisfied, but as usual wondering when the next time I'll see them. These guys give their all every show, don't miss them if they come to your town.



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