Saddle Creek | Sebastien Grainger | Reviews


Sebastian Grainger and the Mountains

04/14/2009 | | | Live Show Preview
I'm writing a poem about called "Flipping Exactly To The Right Page" about how if you were to experience a day without any missteps or miscommunications it would be horrible. On MySpace I checked out both scheduled openers for the Sebastien Grainger show Tuesday Night at one of Chicago's best venues, Subterranean, and figured it wouldn't be worth getting there too much before the former Death From Above 1979 frontman took stage.

Fortunately, the Sebastien & the Mountains set was delayed a solid 85-minutes, I didn't flip to the exact right page, there was a third opener added, and I was able to catch some cool moments from local band Tiger Spirit. Their slow-paced and straight-faced dark melodies in no way prepared the far too empty crowd for Flash Lightnin'.

The Flash Lightnin' songs on MySpace in no way prepares a privileged witness to their live show, as well. Borrowing from the classic '70s guitar-driven rock - including a cover of ZZ Top's "Jesus Just Left Chicago," because it was "really the only thing to do," - Darren Glover and the playful, but seriously impressive, band were able to convert the more modern/indie-rockers. As an appreciator of the Guided By Voices style, lyrically-fueled, less-than two-minute-songs, I still recommend seeing their set, which got increasingly more intricate instrumentally as the their set drew to a close. Getting drunk before their set might be my second, and only other, recommendation.

Sebastien's set I was prepared for to be awesome. At 11:50, and after a Thax Douglas poem, Grainger opened with the killer "Love Can Be So Mean." Being a scalper of indie shows seems like a tough market; some bands are able to sell out months in advance with nothing more than blog-buzz and a four-song EP, while the Daniel Johnston show last year was less than half-full. Last night, even in the cozy Subterranean and despite a more-than-fair eight-dollar cover, the venue was still sparsely occupied.

Most notably in the set was, I believe and could be wrong, "Meet New Friends," which underwent a more spaced-out, clang-y change, and for the better. Grainger led the tight band through the first ten out of twelve songs in orderly fashion before stretching the last two or three for another twenty-plus minutes. Sebastien is a genius for cool bridges in the same way that Akon is with catchy hooks when he's featured in dirty-south rap songs (3-6 Mafia's "That's Right, UGK's "Hard As Hell"). Midway through the set Sebastien laid down my favorite track, "By Cover Of Night (Fire Fight)," which is highlighted by the bridge:
I was knocked down, she was knocked up
We went downtown, we got fucked up
Stayed up all night, took the train home
Woke up at 3, talked on the phone, yeahhhh

No need for a set list because he played pretty much all their songs, no new ones, and no covers except for twenty seconds of Television's "Marquee Moon" during a solo from his knees. Between the EP and the album two versions of "Are There Ways To Come Home" exist, and last night's live version may have been the best of all three. Other cool moments: he invited me on stage during "I Hate My Friends" as I eating a Warhead, when asked why he doesn't cover the YYY's "Maps" he said because "I don't think I can cry and sing at the same time," and he was in an overall happy and talkative mood that carried over in the positive, high-energy performance.