Every once in a while The Horseshoe Tavern books an act so buzzy they manage to snag the best up and comers and the place has an undeniable energy that can’t be replicated in any other venue in the city. Maybe it’s the minimal difference between the crowd and the stage (2 feet at best), maybe it’s the capacity levels are just right that it doesn’t take a lot for it to be packed, while still only holding a few hundred so it creates a unique concert going environment. Whatever it is that keeps people coming back or the booking agents so good, lighting in a bottle was captured for the Porches and Alex G tour. Opening for them both was Your Friend who I sadly missed, but we did manage to score a Favourites Interview with the frontwoman Taryn Miller.
Alex G somehow manages to straddle a line of both intimate and quiet music and brash abrasive guitar licks making a comparison of Nirvana done in a quieter more personal manner not seem like a crazy thought to have. Alex’s prodigious output is great to listen to when you are riding the subway on your own and want to be introspective (his mostly non-descript themes make it easy to fill in the blanks with your own story) but I wondered how it would translate live. It turns out Alex G is a great performer who has a super tight band behind him. The shyness he is known to have is very much present on stage too, as whenever he went into an extended guitar player part of a song he would turn his back to the crowd and lock in on the beat with the drummer.
The songs were played with much more intensity that most of his recorded material would suggest, and it was easy to see a version of early Weezer up on stage. With Alex G’s raspy crooning and alternating falsetto yelps singing poetic songs you can see a young Rivers Cuomo during his Pinkerton heyday as an obvious influence. I’m not sure if his limited banter was to make the audience feel more comfortable or if it was purely for him, but he had great fun with some odd non-sequiturs like “Has anyone seen the Steven Spielberg film A.I.?” with no follow ups or numerous attempts to satirize Donald Trump by claiming his show was a benefit for him, which was usually met with chuckles and boos. It was one of those insanely hot nights in the venue that at one point the drummer took his hat off to pour a glass of water over his head just to cool down. The set ended as Alex brought out Maya Laner from Porches band to help with the high-low vocals on Brite Boy.
It was odd to see so many people leave after Alex G’s set, maybe the contrasting styles of his and Porches music and the low ticket price was enough for some people to skip out on the headliner, but the place seemed to still be packed all the way through as more people surely must have arrived. Unfortunately due to the unbearable heat I had to move back and missed the intimateness that Porches bedroom RnB played. The band played through most of their songs from the just released Pools, which is a sharp turn stylistically from Aaron Maine’s previous work (Porches is technically a solo project by Maine), which had more in common with singer-songwriter country infused folk than the creepy RnB of fka Twigs or How to Dress Well. Maine has a much more outward persona on stage than his opening act, but is much more stream-of-conscious and his banter rarely makes a ton of sense but was still quite entertaining. Maine praised our city serval times, most notably our hot dogs which he must have had a huge craving for. The band grooved along with the beat if only to keep up with the amount of slinky dancing the audience was doing too. It was an interesting pairing of acts, but both have intimate sounding music that can be danced to (well minor head banging and minor grinding are both forms of dance) and it worked very well together. The Horseshoe pulled off a terrific double booking and in a few years those in attendance can look back and saw they saw them in the tiny sweaty bar, as I always look forward to bragging about the last great Shoe show I was at.