Thursday, November 20, 2008

Music to Thaw By

Tuesday, the second night in my concentrated weeklong attempt to take advantage of this city I call home, was a great success. The plan was to visit a neighborhood club, alone, to see one of my favorite bands, Centro-matic. I got there around 8, and realized that, with the band going on around 10:30, I was looking at two and a half hours of drinking or staring into space (or both) by myself, in a nearly empty bar. This being less than my idea of a good time, I walked 1.1 miles (I just Mapquested it) in the bitter cold to a Barnes & Noble to do some fruitless browsing. Why this is my idea of a good time is a riddle I will bypass for now.

Then I walked back the same 1.1 miles, by the end of which my skull was nearly iced. The relatively new club, which I'd never been to before, is on a deserted (at night, anyway), industrial street. I did pass one person, actually -- a woman with her dog outside an obedience school, yelling into her cell phone, "I'm standing out in the freezing cold, and you keep sending cars that won't take a dog! Please send a car that accepts a dog!" Her panicked tone enhanced my sense that if I didn't get inside soon, chilly death would surely come. Centro-matic is based in Texas, and lead singer Will Johnson said he hadn't packed clothes for the "brisk" weather. Brisk was one word for it. One inadequate word.

If you don't know the band, I would recommend catching them live. They put on a great show, and I knew from the start that this night's set list would be to my liking. You're always an underdog to hear your favorite few songs by them, especially earlier ones, because they're quite prolific and have a large catalog from which to choose. They opened and closed with two strong songs from their debut ("Post-It Notes From the State Hospital" and "Fidgeting Wildly," respectively), and played "Flashes & Cables," another one of their best. Johnson's got a lovely, lonely howl of a voice, which seems especially suited to a wintry night like Tuesday.

Here's a picture from his solo encore:

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