langhorne slim puts the
    • FRIDAY, AUGUST 07, 2009

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    You'd think anyone with an interest in music who was even remotely near New Jersey would pool their lunch money, hit the Coinstar, pawn their limited edition Nikes and trek over to All Points West this past rainy Friday. But for anyone looking for something a little different, Jersey had you covered there too. Maxwell's, the charming Hoboken venue once voted "Best Reason to Leave [New York] for Dinner and a Show" by the Village Voice, played host to the irresistible wheatgrass swagger of Langhorne Slim and his cheerfully tongue-in-cheek named band, the War Eagles.

    What comes first, the music or the lyrics? Not for a particular song, but for an entire genre. The shredding and screeching of black metal make perfect sense when accompanied by lyrics about darkness and the antichrist, pillaging the villages and lighting shit on fire. Similarly, Langhorne can get away with Bible-beltin' lyrics like "Aint no girl gonna tell me / she don't wanna be my honey pie" when anyone with less folk conviction and inscrutable alt-country personality would just be laughed off the stage for being cheesy. Perhaps I just have a thing for charismatic folk singers in funny hats and wing-tips, but Langhorne Slim constantly manages to pull off one of the most endearing live shows I've seen.

    When the cities are grimy, the sidewalks are crowded, the air is smoggy and everything feels complicated and overwhelming, you can always count on Langhorne Slim and When the Sun's Gone Down to make your otherwise terrible day suddenly full of simplicity and sunshine. Live, Slim takes that contagious optimism, adds thrashing punk rock energy and a self-aware sexy rock star sneer, and before you know it he's won over the entire crowd and the club becomes a veritable hoedown. Favorite songs "Hello Sunshine," "Honey Pie," and "Restless" (once performed on Letterman) drew cheers and stomping feet as Langhorne waved his guitar, scaled the drum kit, and flailed around the stage hard enough to have his hat repeatedly fly off his head. Notorious for hamming it up with onstage antics and frequent improvising, Langhorne always steals the show, but it wouldn't be the same without the backing band. Drummer Malachi DeLorenzo is nothing short of badass, whaling on the drums with that crazy Wisconsin intensity, and though Paul DeFiglia is gone, Jeff Ratner can stand his own on the standup bass. New tracks raised anticipation for upcoming album, Be Set Free

    Foot-stomping and hollering gave way to swaying and raising drinks, cool beer sloshing out of plastic cups, and the crowd listened reverently to ballads like "Colette" and "By the Time the Sun's Gone Down." At my request, they played "Checking Out," singing, "for people in a small town / we know a lot of people / we know the way things go down." With Langhorne Slim, that's how it always feels. Word of mouth has gained the guys quite a following, but though shows are always packed, they always carry a small-town feel. You can smile at the people next to you, you can feel right at home. And by the time the sound's gone down, you figure, All Points West can keep their all-star lineup and their mud fights; tonight, Maxwell's is the only place to be. - Nina Mashurova





    Langhorne Slim on Tour


    Aug 7 - The Summit w/ The Low Anthem - Columbus, Ohio
    Aug 8 - Grant Park - Lollapalooza - Chicago, Illinois
    Aug 10 - Southgate House w/ The Low Anthem - Newport, Kentucky
    Aug 11 - Basement w/ The Low Anthem - Nashville, Tennessee
    Aug 12 - Grey Eagle Tavern w/ The Low Anthem - Asheville, North Carolina
    Aug 14 - Great On State Music Series - FREE ALL AGES SHOW - Bristol, Tennessee
    Aug 15 - Ottobar w/ The Low Anthem - Baltimore, Maryland
    Aug 16 - Philly Folk Fest Campgrounds - Philadelphia Folk Festival - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    * * * * * * * * * * * *
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