Monday, March 15, 2010

The Love Language Debut New Line Up

Broad Street Cafe, Durham
March 12, 2010

This is the most fun I’ve had at a show in a while and credit the crowd. Awesome folks turned out for Reese McHenry's benefit Friday night at The Broad Street Cafe and it truly felt like a celebration. Rat Jackson bass thumper Rusty Sutton has assumed the role of booking the recently night-club ordained Broad Street and has had an immediate impact on the energy of its shows. Flipping Broad Street's dinner and a show two-band-bill-only policy into traditional rock club three and change line ups, this is the third time in as many weeks that Rusty has promoted four or more bands on a weekend night and Friday was six. This was a benefit that easily would have gone to 506 or The Pour House and it felt just as welcome Broad Street.

On stage with The Pneurotics, Mimi McLaughlin said it best, "We love you Reese" and indeed it was a big night for the girl whose friends turned out in force to lend a helping hand with doctor bills. Reese wasn't the only one there who was having an important night however. Headlining the event was the storied The Love Language performing their very first show with their new line up and their very last local show before the eyes of the galaxy glance upon them this week at SXSW.

A new line up indeed, everyone knows the story; The Love Language bass, drums, and organ/synth players Josh Pope, Thomas Simpson, and Kate Thompson formed The Light Pines at the exact same moment in time that Stuart McLamb wrote his album of heart break which would spawn The Love Language. Josh, Kate, and Tom then, in a near unfathomable degree of selflessness, placed their legit glory on hold to help a friend become successful first. From crowds of ten people at Nightlight three years ago to Merge today, Josh Tom and Kate can count this as a job well done and they deserve all the pay dirt that a super charged karma engine can rev up for The Light Pines. Gathering no further moss upon The Light Pines, they are now in tour mode and are no longer part of Stu's band. Stu wasted no time and spared no lemons in making lemonade out of the entire situation. But will it be as sweet as what we have come to expect?

Before we even take a sip there is a bit of "the biz" that just might be vigilant here. As a few of The Love Language folks went in other directions, Stu didn't replace them one-for-one. In fact, The Love Language is no longer the seven piece ensemble which included two key board players and stacked drummers, but rather a five piece rock outfit. This seriously enhances their ability to take care of business. The Love Language is a demand product and has to give as much as everyone wants to take. A leaner meaner Love Language will hit the road quicker and stay out longer. But with every give there is some take and removing two people from the stage means hollowing out on that extra shaky stompy rattling super sonic wall of sound vibe that has been paralyzing audiences since the beginning and replacing master level experts like Kate on synth and Tom on the kit will be no picnic.

The trademark Love Language sound is the stompy marchy big drum bombardment that beats on your head like a mallet breaking the ice away from your inner dance machine and who among us thought that this energy could be generated by any other means than Tom Simpson's flailing arms, legs, and hair? This is the question that gave me a "What the..." look on my face when I heard the news of the line up change. That look changed to a "huh, wow...ok" on Friday as we got the answer in the form of a possessed Jordan McLamb trading in his nearly-inaudible-anyway acoustic guitar for the sticks and basically reissuing a carbon copy of their drum signature. Jordan had been super handy with the shaky things and thundered with energy at the front of the stage but based on his near perfect replication of The Love Language stomping drum beats on Friday night I've got to call this move a net even.

The role likely absorbing the biggest blow is Missy Thangs who ran the piano opposite Kate Thompson's synth boarding. Those two people are now one and the wall of brown sound goodness that Kate's synth brought us is now on Missy's shoulders to continue blasting. Friday's trials came and like a Zen master kung fu artist, Missy transferred the blow with an array of stomp boxes and wattage to keep the wall standing. New recruits BJ on lead elec and as Stu joked "Justin from craigslist" on bass, both proved themselves and all in all the sound hasn't changed. If anything it has opened up a bit allowing more space for Stu's golden ticket vocals.

Alas, Stu isn't out of the woods yet. I've long felt that it isn't just a brilliant album that creates a beloved group. The path to actualization is littered with the hollowed out corpses of brilliantly arranged bands who maintained every element of success except the one that loosed the arrows upon them...chemistry. There was a remarkable charisma with the original group. Together they were strong yet vulnerable, approachable yet mysterious. Their stage presence was magnetic and from the go with the flow chill of Junis Beefmonth to the riddle wrapped in an enigma subtlety of Tom, as individuals they were just as endearing. Hollywood has a name for people like this, they are called stars. I met BJ and he's cool as shit and Justin seems equally as interesting as any of the original line up and so the challenge will be re-establishing and re-selling the character and charisma of The Love Language. I know there is at least five people dedicated to that challenge and they all got in a cold van on a rainy Sunday morning and began a long trek south by southwest, towards Austin, Texas. --Carrboro Ninja

Profiles and Pages related to this post:

The Love Language: myspace
The Pneurotics: myspace
Rat Jackson: myspace
The Light Pines: myspace
The Dirty Little Heaters: myspace
The Travesties: myspace
D Town Brass: reverbnation
The Loners: The Loners (Label Page)

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