Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Larry and His Flask: They Came, They Rocked, They Conquered

You go to a gig with feverish anticipation for the headliners, unaware of who is opening the show. Or else you might know, but the name means nothing. Then the band takes to the stage and from the very first note your jaw drops. As a result, the course of your life changes.

This happens very rarely, or at least to me. I've attended thousands of gigs but can count on one hand how many times I've experienced this. It happened at the Biltmore in Vancouver in 2009 when an amazing set from Local Natives made Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, themselves a fearsome live proposition, look like shoddy amateurs. And it happened at the old Concorde in Brighton in 1998, when Neutral Milk Hotel turned my world upside down in support of Sparklehorse. I could claim it also happened at the Buzzcocks show at Birmingham Odeon on October 24th, 1979, when I saw Joy Division, but the truth is I knew of them and their "thing" already. Nevertheless, they still blew the doors off in a manner that no band on earth could follow.

Last Saturday, it happened again. In a packed Media Club in Vancouver an up-for-it crowd convened to see the brilliant bluegrass band, Trampled by Turtles. But the opening band...oh my god! Ladies and gentlemen, meet Larry and His Flask:

This image, taken at the show, merely hints and the energy, power and intensity of the set delivered that night by this Portland, Oregon, 6-piece. From the opening few seconds they played with such ferocity and unbridled joy that they sucked the crowd right in, and kept them there. A hi-octane mix of bluegrass, punk rock, New Orleans R&B (resplendent with horns), glorious four-part harmonies and original songs that all sounded like instant classics to these ears, Larry and His Flask absolutely tore the roof off. They also did a couple of covers, their version of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On nearly killing me. The entire band threw themselves individually or collectively into the crowd at various points, especially double bass player and co-founder, Jesse Marshall:

I'm not sure what else to say, really. It was simply astonishing. In an interview with the band's drummer - Jesse's brother, Jamin - AMP Magazine opened their article by saying: There are just some bands that you have to see to believe. Larry and His Flask is one of those bands. I'd say that just about sums it up. If these guys come to play anywhere near you, drop all your plans and go see 'em for one of the most exciting live music experiences of your life.

Oh yeah, Trampled by Turtles were quite good too.

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