Wilmington’s Onward, Soldiers are one of those superbly talented young bands that it quickly becomes a delight to watch grow up and blow up; they haven’t, yet, but they’ve played the Triangle relentlessly in 2011 after saturating their own coastal market, and they have the same edge to them, on stage, in their songwriting, in their pursuit of music as a career, as other young local bands that I’ve seen explode in the last few years. They opened for the Black Lillies at the 506 last night, to a small crowd — Chapel Hill on a Sunday after classes end: not a great draw, for anyone — that nonetheless applauded and whooped heartily after every song, both the stellar ones from 2010’s Ghosts In This Town and their upcoming sophomore album.
Everything on last year’s album is wonderful, particularly the jubilant “Let The Time Roll By”, but it’s also been a pleasure this year to listen to their new songs develop and mature into their own over the last couple of month — Sean Thomas Gerard’s impatient keyboards, Kevin Rhodes’ clever and metronomic drumming driving it all forward, everything last night sounding a little more complex and a little more grown-up than the last time I saw them. They’re still in the mixing process for their second LP, but I’m very much looking forward to it.
The Black Lillies headlined, and I dug what I heard of their set, but work nights are work nights and I scooted out after about five songs (never mind that my insomnia is rabid lately and I was up until 4 am anyway; should have stayed at the 506!). I’d go see them again; clear-voiced Americana and a great pedal steel player. Not exceptional, but certainly excellent.
Full set is here.