We did fine.
There are two types of people in this world – those who love Centro-Matic with all their soul, and those who, for reasons that may be excusable, just haven’t listened to them enough. Anyone who’s clicked on this site more than a couple of times knows the love is deep ‘round these parts. I think part of the shared orthodoxy on this band is that, as good as they sound on record, they’re even better live. Part of that is that you just won’t find a more likeable group of guys out there (bassist Mark Hedman, pulling merch table duty Saturday night, spent 5 minutes trying to make sure I got the right size shirt for my 9 year old). Of course, the main reason is that they turn it up and flat out rock onstage.
Let me tell you, there’s no artifice employed to get Will Johnson’s voice to sound as perfect as it does on their recordings. Given its proper place in the live mix, just above the roiling guitars and pounding rhythm section (and Glen and the Local 506 crew had it perfect Saturday) his voice can be an overpowering force. And multi-instrumentalist Scott Danbom’s backing harmonies might be that secret ingredient that makes it all work as well as it does. But that’s all true on their recordings too. The thing that makes them so good live is that all that stuff has to be cranked up to be heard over the drums and bass. I’m not a drummer, and I don’t know if Matt Pence gets mentioned when a bunch of dipshits gather together to talk about great drummers. But all you have to do is listen to the second song in the set, Distance and Clime’s “Fountains of Fire”, to know he’s an uncommon talent. He can do the really cool complicated fills and the tasteful understatement (and he does both in that song). So even though they don’t do songs like “Repellant Feed” anymore, Matt and Mark still will happily put a hurting on those eardrums.
Speaking of songs, the set featured a lot of the well-worn mainstays they’ve been playing on most of their last few tours, leaning heavily on Love You Just the Same and Fort Recovery and working in four tunes off the excellent new record, Candidate Waltz. The new songs sound great live, working great with the older stuff. I’d have to say the only disappointment was that I can’t think of a song in the set from their fantastic last record Dual Hawks (but it was hotter than hell’s front doorknob in there, and I for damn sure wasn’t keeping a list). Highlights, though, were many, including “Patience for the Ride”, “Mighty Midshipman”, “All the Talkers” and the always breathtaking “Supercar”. (I saw them open for the National at the National Theater in Richmond a couple of years ago, and in my Joe Spectator view, “Supercar”, played through that venue’s wonderful PA system, punched an audience full of unsuspecting National fans right in the gut.) They finished with “Only in my Double Mind” from the new album.
David Bazan, who our visionary leader (that would be John) tells me toured with Will Johnson last year, played a terrific set interspersed with unassuming, yet hilarious stage banter after the Centro-Matic set. It was a fortuitous, one-time pairing, and Centro-Matic will go back to headlining from here out, with fellow Dentonite (Dentonian? Dentonese?) Sarah Jaffe opening. Go see them, and get there early. Sarah’s voice is heartbreakingly beautiful, and definitely not something you’re going to hear every day.
Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you? Go see them. I’ll even help out with dates (and throw on a couple of videos below):
Tuesday 06/28 – North Star Bar – Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday 06/29 – Great Scott – Cambridge, MA
Thursday 06/30 – The Mercury Lounge – New York, NY
Friday 07/01 – Mohawk Place – Buffalo, NY
Saturday 07/02 – Beachland Tavern – Cleveland, OH
Sunday 07/03 – Schubas – Chicago, IL
Tuesday 07/05 – Euclid Records – St. Louis, MO @ 5pm (Will Johnson solo)
Tuesday 07/05 – Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO
Thursday 07/07 – Dan’s Silverleaf – Denton, TX
Friday 07/08 – Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX
Saturday 07/09 – Cactus Records @ 1pm (Will Johnson solo)
Sunday 07/10 – Waterloo Records @ 5pm (full band)
Sunday 07/10 – The Mohawk – Austin, TX
Here's a nicely recorded version of "Flashes and Cables" with only 350 views for some reason:
And here's a video for "Call the Legion in Tonight" from 2000's All the Falsest Hearts Can Try (learn the handclaps -- that's important):