Live Review: August 16, 2013 – Lindsay Duncan, Willie Stratton, This Ship

Before we even get to any of the music from the evening, I first need to fess up and admit that the show that I got was not the show I expected.  Now don’t get me wrong, the music I heard was good and if anything exceeded my expectations, after realizing where the gig was.

Since picking up their EP, All The Stars and Elements, I’ve been on a total This Ship kick.  I have it spinning (yes I will use that word when describing music even though it’s an MP3).  regularly on my iPod and it’s the only CD that I play in my truck (no satellite radio or audio-in jack in my wheels so CD’s are my means of music).  So when I first heard that they were going to be playing a “house” show this past Friday I made sure that I would be there in attendance.  Go ahead and re-read that sentence one more time…..that’s correct, it was a house show.  For some odd reason, I had assumed that this would be some sort of a converted two story home (converted for musicians), located smack dab in the middle of college student central.  I was close with my guess.  Smack dab in the middle it was but converted not so much.

When I walked through the front door I eeeked my way past a flight of stairs through a narrow hallway to find myself in the kitchen and directly attached to the kitchen was the stage/performance area, or as most people would say, the living room.  Needless to say my expectations of a decent show went from super high to super crazy hopeful.  (I’ve been lucky enough to play some live music in all different types of venues and this did not look like a space which held up).

First up was local darling Lindsay Duncan.  Unfortunately I landed at the gig a little late and only had the opportunity to check out a couple of her songs.  Between catching up with a few people I haven’t seen in a long time and discussing the pros and cons of the “folk-rock” movement (it will make sense in a little while) I really didn’t pay much attention to her set.  For that, I do apologize and feel that it would be unfair to give any type of review, good or bad (but you can check her out on reverbnation here).

Next up was a band I’ve been trying to check out for the past two months, Willie Stratton.  For this I choose to avoid any type of online listening experience (it happens every now and then) and go in blind.  Some of the words which were used to regularly describe the Willie Stratton experience were raw, folky, intense and energetic.  It seemed like a good bet that going in blind would be a fairly safe idea.

Upon my initial inspection of the band (there was a violin, guitar, floor tom, stand up bass and banjo) all I could think of was Mumford and Sons 2.0.  For the record I don’t consider that an insult by any means.  Mumford and Sons have made a lot of fans and even more money by playing that type of floor stomping, folk-rock being blasted throughout every university in North America and the UK.

For the next 45 minutes, the 30 or so people in attendance (you forgot this was a house party didn’t you) jumped, bounced, clapped and participated in everything that was thrown at them.  The sound was chaotic and messy yet  never seemed to be out of control.  It was like taking bits and pieces of The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons and blending them in with some Arcade Fire.

The music which was pumping out of a tiny PA in a dead sounding living room was mind blowing.  However this 5 piece band was able to sound as good as they did, under the conditions in which they were playing, gives them a free pass on any musical wrong doings they may ever make.  If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Willie Stratton perform live you are doing yourself a great injustice.  This band has the talent and sound to really take a stab at making it in the music industry.  Two big thumbs up and a must see if they come through your area.

The last act of the evening (and the reason I had originally decided to hit this show) was This Ship.  I’ve had the opportunity to see this band a few times now and each show seems to be an improvement on the past.  Over the past four months they’ve gotten so much tighter both musically and vocally.  It wouldn’t be an easy task to follow up the Willie Stratton performance, but This Ship nailed it.  By blending a great mixture of songs from the last EP, All The Stars and Elements, with songs from the upcoming November release, the crowd remained focused and receptive.

What I really enjoyed about the performance were the new songs.  Although I love the last EP it was very nice to hear that This Ship were expanding their sound.  Whereas most of the older songs were anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes long, the new songs seemed a little less jammy and a little more snappy.  They also seemed to have developed a darker more pop-punk attitude with the new tracks.  Anytime an artist or band stray away from a sound which has brought them success, ripples in the water can appear.  Luckily for This Ship, these ripples have done nothing but to help push this band in the right direction.  I’ve already gushed about This Ship before, so this time I’ll just say that much like Willie Stratton this is a band which needs to be experienced live.

About the author


Jeff is one-fourth of the group that makes up HAFILAX. His usual ramblings can be read right here on the website. If reading isn't your thing, he also hosts the Basement Tapes podcast.