“Let’s play some soft rock, hard rock, psyche rock.”
That’s how Tim Kasher described his upcoming The Good Life set at The Echo just a half hour after Tancredo warmed the room. It’s as good a description as you can get. The Good Life is hard to convey through genre tags, not because they’re so out there and weird, but because so often they sound like whatever Tim Kasher wants to make that isn’t heavily informed by rock guitars. Often that comes out as singer-songwriter indie rock — the kind that made the genre a commercial force in the early 00s, before it got really artsy, and then really retro.
A lot of their set pulled from this era. By my count, there were only three were from their newest album, Everybody’s Coming Down. Maybe it was because they were opening for Speedy Ortiz, a band with a likely different fan base, and they wanted to roll out the haymakers. I’m not complaining. The thrill of “O’Rourke’s, 1: 20 A.M.” and “Lovers Need Lawyers” played with precision and youthful gusto is priceless. Tim’s voice is still a weapon, and even if he’s not in the same place he was when he wrote “Album of the Year,” he can still send you there. His band is equally talented; Stefanie Drootin and Ryan Fox are righteous on the guitar and bass, always taking striding stomps during the big solos.
Speedy Ortiz is a killer band to see live. Most bands of their ilk live for explosive chords, climactic rushes and singing through gritted, seething teeth. Speedy’s grungier, intricate guitar licks and power drumming are not the adrenaline rush of other hard rock and punk bands, but more like combination punches from a heavyweight champ. The barrage is constant.
That’s also why I can’t imagine a crowd moshing to this music, for all its rocking. Not that I was missing it. A song like “MKVI” is more the eye of the storm than the storm, but it doesn’t change the swirling danger and wickedness around it. In the studio, it’s interesting; no one sounds quite like them despite their traditional band set up. In person, it just feels like a really gnarly hard rock show. It cuts to the core of what makes these songs fun: their licks, grit, and power.
Shamir joined as a gust vocalist for “Puffer,” an outlier sound in the Speedy catalog. It’s the most beat-based, genre-pushing song they do, which is why it lends itself so well to remixes. It was a great picture as they struck a back-to-back power stance during the performance. Everyone took shots of Jack Daniels on stage. It felt like a party, but not like the zany frat party kind, more like the fourteen-friends-dinner-party when you’re a little older.
Sunday night shows are in a tough slot, and the Echoplex is a tough venue to fill end-to-end even on prime nights. But you can’t beat the intimacy and ease that slot brings.
Anyway. I had fun.