Hey Marseilles w/ Ruffled Feathers and Henry & The Nightcrawlers @ Biltmore -- 02/10/11

It's always kind of odd going to a show where you are looking forward to the opener more than the headliner. I think for this one, the order of the lineup was the opposite of who I wanted to see most. Henry is always great to see live; after seeing them last month at the Media Club, I was interested in seeing The Ruffled Feathers again; and I had never even heard anything from Hey Marseilles.

Up first was Henry and the Nightcrawlers, and it's always fun to see who Henry has on stage with him. Last night was Tom & Zach from The Zolas, on keys & bass and Andy of We Are The City on the drums. The first few songs of the set were plagued by crackling speakers -- which, in all my time going to the Biltmore, this is only the second time I can remember audio problems -- but they were corrected a few songs in. The pause while fixing was a bit of a momentum killer, but they managed to get that, and the crowds attention, back soon enough, especially with the always incredible ending of "On A Week Night".
Aside from the usual songs off the debut album, there was also a new one which sounded pretty good, and the set closed with an extended ending on "100 Blows", which had each member of the band just go nuts for a great climax.

The Ruffled Feathers were up next, with a wide assortment of instruments, from the slide trumpet to the mandolin. As I mentioned last time I saw them, they are a very fun band to watch live. Not only is the music itself bubbling over with energy, but each and every member looks like they are having a ton of fun on stage. They had a good portion of the crowd up front dancing along, too. Near the end of the set they announced they were going to play their song "Home", followed by a different "Home". Turns out it was Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes (see a decent-quality cellphone video here), and a pretty fun cover, aside from a brief unplugging mishap. They ended the show with one of the members go into the crowd with a megaphone, and all the members lining the front of the stage -- even the drummer, with a snare.
Finally was Hey Marseilles. They started off with a maritimey sound, before pretty much channelling The Decemberists. I love The Decemberists, so I still liked the set well enough, but it was almost distracting how much they sounded like them. There was a stage full of people with strings and horns, but most damning of all was the lead singer, who both sounded like, and had the same cadence as, Colin Meloy. Even the lyrics were rather Meloyesque, just without being as verbose.
There were a couple songs, most notably the last of the night, that sounded a bit more like the band was branching out into their own sound -- though still very maritime-folk -- that were quite good, but for the most part, I couldn't get past the heavy influence (to put it nicely) of The Decemberists.

Even with those complaints, though, it was still a fun night of music.