henry clay people & the dig @ local 506

the henry clay people @ local 506

There’s something intangibly engaging about enthusiasm, as a photographer; ask someone to make a great heavy metal face and when they do it without thinking twice, there’s more energy in a photo than there would have been before. Likewise, the boys behind Los Angeles pop rockers the Henry Clay People take to the stage with the kind of energy that, in retrospect, make them a perfect touring partner for the Drive-By Truckers (they’ve spent several weeks on the road with the Truckers this year already). They climb things, they bang up against each other, and lead singer Joey Siria nearly flails himself and the guitar hanging down at his knees right off the stage.

the henry clay people @ local 506

I am totally entranced by kids playing in bands with people they love, trying to make better music than what they grew up with, and doing it all with flair, flash, and bucketloads of enthusiasm; Ash called them kids playing their hearts out, and that’s it exactly. The Henry Clay People fit that description to a tee, and like the internets told me in advance, their live show is miles above their admittedly solid third album. Somewhere on the Golden Coast is a good album, with a few stunners (“Your Famous Friends” is in my top 10 tracks for 2010) mixed in, but their live show elevates it a great deal.

I love to shoot bands who look like they’re having fun on stage, because I have fun shooting people who are having fun. It’s a vicious circle. (That’s why it’s vicious. And a circle.) Enthusiasm is contagious, enthusiasm makes a live show all the better, and the Henry Clay People knocked it out of the park last night. They play big, ambitious, noisy guitar pop, backed by thumping bass and textured keyboards, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun live. It isn’t flawless, but what kind of a good time is flawless? I’d rather have fun any day of the week.

Joey and Andrew Siria were also kind enough to give me some of their time between the Dig’s set and theirs, for a photo series I’m working on, and I’ll have some of those photos up next week.

the dig @ local 506

New York City’s the Dig opened, and like I was hoping, they’re a lot more dynamic live than they are recorded; a little more off the hook, a little more textured. Sonically, I was immediately grabbed by how dry frontman Emile Mosseri’s bass sounds live, loud but not ringing, in a way that occasionally stands out in a raise-your-arm-hairs way, and how present the drums were live; I lost the drumming a little bit in some of the studio recordings, but it’s very much the force in their live set. (And drummer Jamie Alegre is an Animal-esque drummer in the most delightful way.) Their sound mix was middling — I trust no one mixing at the 506 anymore, apparently — and the band is young; but sometimes that’s what I’m interested in seeing, young bands who haven’t quite gotten everything right, yet. There’s interesting stuff to be had in watching musicians grow up, getting to see the layers of figuring out how to do what they’re doing. You might not get a perfect show, but you also might get something interesting.

The Dig and Henry Clay People keep touring together for a couple of weeks; they’re heading north. If you want a good night out, I recommend it. Tour dates here — do it!

the dig @ local 506

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