I’ll admit it’s not every day I go to a show for the opener. In fact, I often feel somewhat uncomfortable standing front and center among the dozen or so others scattered about the venue. Of course, there are those holding up the bar, chatting at a painfully loud volume, or phone gazing during the set. Not the case with local favorites, Violent Mae, opening the show for another New England favorite, Lady Lamb. The only outlier was (Luke) Rathborne who now hails from New York City but can be claimed by Maine as well. Geography aside, the draw for me was first and foremost Violent Mae.
I’ve said it before, as an advocate of all ages shows, there tends to be a more youthful and upbeat energy to these shows. I arrived just as Violent Mae was cutting into their first tune and was rather surprised to find a good 50 to 60 audience members packed shoulder to shoulder beneath the low ceiling, reminiscent of your friends basement jam room. I hate doing it, which is why I try to arrive early, but I eventually made my way up to the front careful not to place myself directly in front of someone. From all the way stage right I was able to get a full sense of the crowd that was in attendance, presumably to see headliners Lady Lamb, but for all their swaying and smiles you’d never know it. Guitarist and vocalist Becky Kessler even made note of the exuberant environment, commenting on how much fun she was having. Drummer Floyd Kellogg smiled and shared the occasional laugh with Kessler during an extended set as Rathborne were running late. The duo played several cuts from their eponymous debut album including “Later On,” “Hole In My Heart,” and one of my personal favorites, “Worn Out My Welcome.” Kessler and Kellogg also debuted some new songs. After the set, I spoke briefly with Floyd and learned that most of the album was finished, but there were still some loose ends to tie up. Regardless, the new songs were true to the soulful, honest, and rich textures one has come to expect from their “indie-noir” sound. I for one am very excited about their sophomore release due out sometime this fall.
Rathborne took the stage next after getting lost just one driveway down from The Space’s. Luke told the comical story of finding his way with drummer Marian Li Pino (La Luz) to an industrial complex that featured auto body shops and Karate dojos to which he would like to return to visit someday when he had more time. While the gender roles were flip-flopped, Luke on guitar and vocals and Li Pino on drums the sound was starkly different than the preceding duo’s. While I wouldn’t necessarily come to suggest that Rathborne’s music was derivative it definitely felt a bit more influenced by the recent resurgence of garage/psych coming from the likes of Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees. Li Pino’s drumming was spirited and steady and while the rhythms were unique to Rathborne’s music you could hear her surf stylings trying to rise up. An entertaining set nonetheless.
Finally, and as it was intended, the night belonged to Aly Spaltro’s Lady Lamb, formerly known as Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. It didn’t take, but a note or two from the self-made pop outfit from Maine to know who the heavily female audience came to see. There were times when I could hear the front row of girls better than I could Spaltro’s vocals, and this is no hyperbole! At first I was slightly annoyed by this, particularly when I could hear one audience members “twang”, “twang”, “twang” more prominently than Spaltro’s banjo strums but I will also admit to quickly finding the fun in it all. The evening was anything but stiff and uppity so why the hell not, “twang”, “twang”, “twang” away ladies. Aly shared an “I told you so” with her band between songs as she lauded CT fans for being fervent. There was even a moment later in the set where she began to get emotional and then quickly shook it off by admonishing herself saying, “look at me getting all emotional”. Spaltro wasn’t the only one getting in on the fun. Bassist and long time friend of Spaltro’s, TJ Metcalfe shared packages of Sour Patch Kids with the front row after being asked about his shirt (a silhouette of a Sour Patch Kid apparently) and he was also asked to the prom. So all in all it was a super fun evening for all involved.
Lady Lamb will be back in Connecticut on July 27th when they open for The Decemberists at College Street Music Hall. They also have a smattering of dates around New England and Canada this summer.