Over The Weekend: Constantines and Crystal Antlers at Sons of Hermann Hall

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Constantines, Crystal Antlers
Sons of Hermann Hall
June 5, 2006

Better than: Any show I've been to this year.

In front of about 100 people, Canada's Constantines played as if its audience at Sons of Hermann Hall on Friday night numbered in the thousands. Full of fire and vigor, the unkempt quartet made its way through selections from all four of its full-length efforts. Starting with "Nighttime/Anytime (It's Alright)" from 2007's much-heralded Shine a Light album, Bryan Webb and crew were rarely anything but intense.

During "Hard Feelings," one of the best cuts from 2008's Kensington Heights, guitarist Steve Lambke bounded about the stage like a kid on crack. Bassist Dallas Wehrle and drummer Doug MacGregor were also on the top of heir rhythm section game for the entire hour and a half set; during the propulsive "Young Lions," the duo locked into a groove that was nothing short of amazing.

Perhaps the best song of the night, though, was the relatively new "Time Can Be Overcome." On record, it's a great song, but, live, Webb's Springsteen-meets-Strummer slur pushed the cut to 11. Indeed, as phenomenal as the band is, Webb's way with a phrase and his relentless energy is certainly at the heart of Constantines.

Meanwhile, Long Beach's Cystal Antlers were the perfect band to get the evening started. Dense and psychedelic, Jonny Bell and the rest of this mind-altering quartet made quite a bit of racket for a little over half an hour. Ending the set with a beautiful (and totally unexpected) cover of Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," Crystal Antlers are definitely a band worth catching again the next time they come to town.

At a little past midnight, I walked away exceedingly impressed and a bit depressed.

Constantines is a band that deserves more than a hundred people on a Friday night. And with only a $10 cover, the economy could be no excuse.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
Even though the band has been around for a decade, I have no reservations about naming Constantines my new favorite band. The Walkmen have been relegated to a close second.

Random Note: Like many of their influences (Gang of Four, The Fall and Fugazi), Constantines often have songs that start and stop seemingly at will. At the end of "Trans Canada," the crowd was caught off guard and there were several awkward moments of silence before Webb mumbled "Thank you" into the microphone and the faithful at hand responded with a hearty cheer. That had to be one of the strangest moments I've ever witnessed at a rock show.

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