It was the band’s first ever date in Arkansas, which felt like a kind of personal validation somehow. And it was the band’s first public show since closing out a short run in Mexico in February of 2020. Expectations were running, ah, high among those I met in the queue at the gates and inside on the lawn.
For ears that have been quarantining in landlocked Arkansas for a solid year now, Montgomery’s lo-fi pandemic album is a balm, spinning visions of sticky tropical air, the pristine Aleutian Islands and the heady electricity of romance’s first spark.
Forty-six metal, noise and punk outfits are throwing their music behind a Bandcamp compilation titled "Shut It Down: Benefit for the Movement for Black Lives," and two of those 46 are Arkansas's own Rwake and Terminal Nation.
The Jacksonville, Fla., 12-piece outfit delivered a two-hour set of all-the-music Nov. 16, from the take-you-to-church, gospel-inflected “Joyful Noise” to the closer, a Motown-flavored “I Want More” that morphed into the Santana instrumental classic, “Soul Sacrifice.”
Maybe it was Jett’s long-sharpened road-dog skills or her devoted vegetarian diet, or whatever soothing tonic was in Ann Wilson’s ceramic coffee cup, but neither showed a shred of evidence of vocal atrophy, and both were surrounded by the kind of musicians and engineers who can make their music work in a stadium setting.
Breaking fourth walls as often as its foley artist Erick Saoud broke glass, a compact cast of singers and pianist/songwriter John Willis put up Menotti's 1939 radio opera "The Old Maid & The Thief" at The Studio Theatre this weekend.
As the river encroached the park, lapping against the bricks of the back of the amphitheater, its brisk current often matched the blistering tempos. Geese wandered about near the backstage equipment like hopeful groupies.
Mondanaro brought the libretto to absolute life. Her lines were smooth and spinning and radiant, and so nimble that she was able to lend that lovely element of surprise Puccini’s phrases can have, in the right hands — the kind where you’re not sure if a line of dialogue is going to blossom suddenly and swell upward, or demure modestly in a downward flutter and disappear.
The band’s recorded songs routinely run longer than five minutes, and are given even more room to breathe in the live setting, during which the band skillfully vamped and locked into dynamic grooves, effortlessly waxing and waning to create an overpowering frenzy or to showcase an individual musician, depending on what the song or situation called for in the moment.
Tucked in between “Shoot Me Straight” and “Weed, Whiskey and Willie” near the beginning of the duo’s show Friday night at Robinson Performance Hall in Little Rock, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)” was not only an early highlight of the concert, but also a fine showcase of TJ Osborne’s great voice as he sang about “the boy I used to be.”