Monday, May 18, 2009

Review: Thao @ Iron Horse, 5/12


Thao Nguyen and friends filled the Iron Horse in Northampton with beach drums and ukulele strums last Tuesday night. Together, we bobbed our heads and braved bee stings and all (read: these intimidating characters and a phenomenon sweeping the nation that has come to be known as the Antagonistic Bro).

Samantha Crain & the Midnight Shivers of WTBU rotation fame opened first. Crain's voice shined, big and countrified, sometimes approaching a Joanna Newsome level of strange. Sister Suvi played next with a set that could be the ocean's official soundtrack. They were at their fiercest when ukulele toting Merrill took lead vocals and ordered the crowd to dance in a tone that let us know she meant business.

Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down, her backing band, took the stage next after setting up some homemade monsters made of wood and earthy colors. She kept the energy high with upbeat favorites from her debut LP, We Brave Bee Stings and All. The trio kept things fresh by pressing the fast forward button on choruses to end songs. Merrill of Sister Suvi and Samantha Crain also joined Thao for a couple songs with Crain's voice making for a rich, peculiar harmony. Thao put an exclamation point on album opener "Beat (Health, Life & Fire)" with a percussion party break around the drum set as she, Merrill and the band gathered around and went to town midway through.


Thao debuted some new songs with the same beat-heavy grooves and sad but sharp observations on the dysfunctionality of past infatuations for which we have grown to love her. "So what am I, just a body in your bed?" she shouted in the chorus of a standout new track. She ended things with "Feet Asleep" where the crowd kept the chorus going long after Thao stopped singing. Girl's got fans.


For more WTBU coverage of Thao Nguyen, including an interview and past show review, click here.

- Jessy Bartlett