Kathryn Calder @ Biltmore -- 05/20/11

It seems like it's been forever since I had seen a show (two weeks!) and especially one at the Biltmore (two months!!) so I was excited to be able to see Kathryn Calder again, and was interested to see Louise Burns for the first time.

It was an early show, so Louise Burns hit the stage just after 8 with a backing band -- dubbed The Moonshiners -- that included Jody Glenham, Debra Jean Creelman and a couple members of The Raccoons.
Sadly, since no one in this city ever shows up on time, the crowd was still pretty sparse, which is a shame because it was quite a fun set. She played from her debut album Mellow Drama, and while some of the songs had the same kind of sound to them, it wasn't necessarily a bad thing as they were all pretty upbeat and catchy, with a good energy from the band.
The last couple songs were the highlight for me, the single "What Do You Wanna Do" and "Street Walking" which, like the whole set, were driven by Burns' strong voice; and it definitely didn't hurt having pipes like Jody and Debra Jean on backing vocals.

Next was Himalayan Bear, the solo project of Ryan Beattie, guitarist for Frog Eyes. He was joined by Frog Eyes bandmate Megan Boddy on violin and Marek Tyler of Meatdraw on drums (both of which also play with Calder), but the small band belied a much more intricate sound; one that I almost want to call "prog folk". With any more members, it could have turned into a sprawling mess of noise, but the minimalistic nature helped give it a focus. It probably also helped that all three were damn good musicians.
There wasn't much by way of banter though the set, with the band just letting the music speak for itself -- like the five minute plus "Man of Fire", which had just Beattie on guitar and vocals and was incredibly captivating. I will definitely be interested in seeing him live again, and am looking forward to the new album out later this year.

And finally was former Immaculate Machine and current The New Pornographer, Kathryn Calder. She also, of course, released her first solo album almost a year ago, Are You My Mother?, which I really liked, so I was looking forward to seeing her live again.
With Calder switching from acoustic & electric guitars and the keyboard throughout the night, she & her backing band played mostly off the solo album, but also threw in a few new songs, which were quite good. Especially "One Two Three" (if my ability to read an upside down setlist from afar can be trusted) which was a little harder with more of an edge. Made me very interested in hearing more of her new material.
Throughout the set, they went seamlessly from fast and upbeat songs like "A Day Long Past Its Prime" to the slow and beautiful "So Easily"; sometimes even, as with "Slip Away", within the same song. The band had a great energy and stage presence, and Calder had the best charmingly-awkward banter I've seen since Aidan Knight.
They ended the set with another highlight, the fantastically energetic "Castor and Pollux", preceding it by saying it was the last song of the set, and the last of the songs they knew, so that would be it. Which made me and my anti-faux-encore stance happy that they just played right up until curfew.

The night was a really fun trio of bands, and I will definitely be catching any of them live next time I have the chance.

All It Is, Follow Me into the Hills, If You Only Knew, Turn A Light On, [new song], Slip Away, A Day Long Past Its Prime, Down the River, Arrow, So Easily, One Two Three[?], Castor and Pollux.