Joe Lally, True Widow
Bryan Street Tavern
November 6, 2011
Better than: seeing a Michael Anthony solo show.
Sunday's double bill of Joe Lally and True Widow might have not brought out a large crowd, but it seemed like everyone who showed up really wanted to be there. Though the small room in the back of the Bryan Street Tavern was only half-full, people were especially delighted by Lally's performance.
The Fugazi bassist is stateside for a number of dates in North America. Since he spends most of his time living in Rome with his family, this Dallas stop was definitely a rarity, but it wasn't great simply because of that aspect.
Backed only by a drummer and cellist, songs from all three of Lally's solo records were performed. No less than 15 songs were played in under 45 minutes, and those minutes flew right by.
Sure, Lally still plays bass lines like the ones he played in Fugazi, and his solo material definitely resembles the few Fugazi songs he sang lead on. Yet as a solo performer, he was not the subdued guy mere inches away from the drum kit. A very talkative person as the set began, from introducing his bandmates to talking about Absolutely Fabulous, Lally let the music do the talking for the rest of the time.
Illuminated only by soft blue lights, the band produced a set that was quick, jazzy and the to-the-point. A major reason this worked well was because of drummer Ricardo Lagomasino. A jazz drummer at heart, he could also keep a great funk groove when not playing straightforward rock beats. Cellist Alison Chesney (who performs solo as Helen Money) did more than what the average cellist does. Aided by a vast array of guitar pedals, she could make her cello sound like a cello, but she could also make it sound like an electric guitar.
Major props to the audience as they didn't scream for Fugazi songs or yell out the live show cliché of "Whooooah!" between songs. They bopped along during the set, applauded loudly after every song, and many of them hung out and talked with Lally, Lagomasino and Chesney afterwards.
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True Widow started the night off with a welcome home sort of get-together. After a pretty long year of touring, including a multiweek European tour, the band still had their usual spunk in them. They opened and closed with some of their slowest material, but everything in between during their 50-minute set was brisker. The audience seemed to find all sorts of ways in amusing themselves, whether it was play-fighting, dancing or laughing uncontrollably. Many of these people were friends of the band, so they weren't crashing a party. It was their way of doing a homecoming.
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Personal bias: I've tried to keep up with Fugazi's members since they decided to stop playing live almost 10 years ago. Ian MacKaye's duo The Evens is quite good, and pretty much any documentary Brendan Canty is involved with is worth your time. The same goes with records Guy Picciotto produces.
Random quote: "We'll just play with Aerosmith," said Dan Phillips as True Widow started their set and "Dream On" kept playing on the P.A. in the next room.
Joe Lally's setlist
"Day is Born"
"Nothing to Lose"
"Fort Campbell, KY"
"Revealed in Fever"
"Ministry of the Interior"
"Skin and Bone"
"Coral and Starfish"
"Why Should I Get Used to It?"
"Last of the Civilized"
"Tonight at Ten"
"What Makes You"