the new familiars @ the blind tiger

It’s rare that I forget how much I love a band, but if I go a while between instances of seeing them live, sometimes I will forget how great someone is live. And that went for the New Familiars; I hadn’t seen them since last September, in Bristol, and somehow between then and now, despite listening to their live album at least once a week, I had forgotten how masterful they are on stage — they were built to be a live band, not a recorded one, and musically they’re some if not the most talented band I see live on a regular basis.

Ash and I have been talking this week about bands who unironically wear their influences on their sleeve — this is what we love, this is where we come from, it shaped us, now let’s rock — and I think there’s definitely something to be said for the candidity of that. I want to know who a band loves, who shaped their desire to spend two-thirds of their year on the road, sleeping on floors and drinking cheap beer and playing to crowds that may or may not even give a crap, and while there’s a fine line to walk between blatant cheap ripping off and a solid tip of the hat, I think there’s very little that’s more revealing about a bunch of musicians than who they choose to cover.

Who they love enough to pay tribute to, if you will.

Last night, between openers Soulgrass Rebellion and the New Familiars, we heard covers of Sublime, the Band, Elton John, Talking Heads, and Paul Simon. You couldn’t pull together a more random group of artists to cover if you picked five out at random from my iPod, and that says something: there’s a love for music there, that maybe explains a little about why this particular set of guys is doing what they’re doing.

All five of those covers were great; the Paul Simon cover, a version of “the Boy in the Bubble” with the Mantras’ Keith on lead vocals and guitar, was in particular incredible. And those moments, that’s some of why I see so much live music — for those tiny pieces of transcendency and hearts on sleeves.

This week I listened to a lot of Bruce Springsteen and Sam Cooke, Counting Crows and Paul Simon. Wallowing around in musicians I love, but also listening to them as other people’s influences. (Well, and I listened to the Old Ceremony today, too, because after I take an epic nap, we’re off to Raleigh to catch them at the Pour House. But you know what I mean.)

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