Thanks to Bekah over at Suicide Squeeze Records, I was able to check out a band that I've been digging A LOT lately, Page France, in concert with some friends, Denison Witmer and Anathallo. The three were playing at the Webster Underground, in Hartford, CT, on Tuesday night (December 5th).
The night opened with Denison Witmer, supported by his guitar, taking the stage. I had only heard a smidgen of Denison's music but was eager to hear more. His set was short, about a half hour, and rather subdued, even more than most of his music since he had no instrumentation to add oomph behind him. Quiet, pensive, and reflective would sum up the 8 or so songs he played for a rather paltry crowd of about 25 people.
For those fans out there, you've probably heard his birthday had passed by recently (November 4th) and that in celebration of said event, Denison has put together a website full of gifts: "30 new recordings of songs from my entire catalog, a few covers, a few unreleased songs, and a some podcasts of stories from my touring and my life in general." How much does said collection cost? Well, that all depends on how generous a soul you are. Technically speaking, they are absolutely, completely free, however Denison asks that you donate however much you feel comfortable giving to a couple of very worthwhile charities. Even if you've already spent a boatload of cash on Christmas gifts, visit Happy Birthday Denison Witmer to download some fantastic songs and donate to some worthy causes.
Denison Witmer - California Brown And Blue : Are You A Dreamer?
Denison Witmer - The '80s : Happy Birthday Denison
After Denison left the stage, and a short change-over, Page France took the stage. Having originally come to the show to see them, I was understandably excited. Michael Nau and company opened with an energetic presentation of Junkyard, and then proceded to play mostly songs from their new (and very enjoyable) album Hello, Dear Wind. Other notable songs played included Windy, Antarctica, and Elephant, with a stirring Chariot wrapping it all up. Hearing the band live is a little different than their studio recordings. Tracks that have a carefree, light, airy feel on the album tend to rock out more in person. The set was wonderful, albeit a little short (only about 35 minutes!). I asked Whitney about it while she was manning the "goodies for sale" table and her reply was something close to "we don't want to overstay our welcome." Oh Whitney, I would have been in nirvana with a whole night of Page France. Also according to Whitney, they'll be touring again early next year...I'll be looking forward to it and dreaming of a longer set.
While shopping at the goodies table, I was hoping to pick up a Page France tour shirt, but to my chagrin, they were completely sold out: not a single one in any size left! Instead, I picked up their latest recording, the 4 song Tomoto Morning Tour EP. If you don't get a chance to see them on the last few days of the tour, don't despair...you can order it from the Suicide Squeeze website.
Page France - Junkyard : Live on WDET (studio version on Hello, Dear Wind)
Page France - Give Him A Blanket : Tomato Morning Tour E.P.
The night ended with Anathallo squeezing onto the stage, and I do mean squeezing. For those of you who have never been to the Webster Underground before, the stage is just about big enough for a band of 4 to semi-comfortably play. With 7 members assembled into this tight space, the band almost had to rotate all at once when someone wanted to move to a different spot on the stage.
Anathallo was the band I had heard and knew least about before seeing them. On one hand, I have to be honest and admit I didn't really get into them. On the other hand, I have to admit that they are a talented group of musicians who clearly immersed themselves in their music. Matt Joynt, the lead singer, has a voice that seems made for a broadway musical: powerful, clear yet loud, and space filling. The rest of the band plays a wide range of instruments, with plenty of percussion and even a horn section in some of the arrangements. Anyway, don't let my jaded view influence your musical tastes (except when I'm right, of course). Check them out yourself and make up your own mind.
Anathallo - Hoodwink : Floating World