Sometimes it’s hard for me to go see people I count as friends play shows; most of the time not, because they all play in bands I objectively as well as subjectively love and so it’s good music and usually it’s easy, but sometimes it’s hard, because sometimes my friends are idiots, and I spend a lot of time laughing inappropriately during their set and saying, oh my GOD, what are you DOING.
Which is a long way of saying that a show by the Never always always includes a healthy dose of their joyous close harmony indie pop, but also often includes a lot of performance art and wondering what Jonny’s going to destroy next.
It was a particularly good show last night; they aren’t playing out much right now, owing mostly to the fact that Noah up and decided to go to film school, so any show where we can see them is a good one. I’ve been seeing the Never live for just over a year now, and the way they wring a huge sound out of a simple set-up never fails to astound me; the guitar work, in particular, between Joah’s electric and Noah’s acoustic, was excellent last night.
They’re also always great fun to shoot — Jonny’s a holy terror behind his drums, and Noah and Joah are both intensely photogenic; there’s never a moment lacking for movement or color or something being flung into the air. I’ve had some trouble shooting the Never in bad lighting situations, but never trouble shooting them because they were boring or every shot I got seemed the same as the previous one. Last night, the lights were passable to good, and the shots were easy.
When t. first introduced me to the Never’s music last spring, after I’d met Jonny while Holy Ghost Tent Revival was recording take one of their second full-length with him, shep. and I did a lot of driving around with the windows down and Antarctica on. For an album that’s named after a frozen paradise, it’s an intensely spring-ish sounding collection of songs, shimmery guitars and strings and full-voiced choruses. The Never have that talent of making songs that should be heartbreaking sound epic and triumphant, and it’s never more clear than when they play Antarctica‘s title track live — a song that opens with a dream about shooting a best friend in the head. And yet, live, thumping drums and the audience singing back to the band, somehow it works. Somehow it makes me think of springtime and running away and being free.
And that’s how music should be.
Plus, sometimes Jonny destroys stuff, and that’s always a good time. I miss these guys being around and playing all the time; I know we were mostly just lucky to see them as much as we did last year, but I still miss them.