Over The Weekend: Trashcan Sinatras at The Loft

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The Trashcan Sinatras, Salim Nourallah
The Loft
March 4, 2011

Better than: looking for closeout deals at the Borders in Uptown and Highland Park.

There are shows where you completely forget about the pains of the day, like the rising price of gas, job woes, or the risk of getting the flu.

The Trashcan Sinatras' set on Friday did just that.

Indeed, the folks who filled up half of the floor at The Loft experienced bliss while the band played an almost two hour-long, stripped down set, with only two acoustic guitars, an electric guitar and percussion. Yep, the four members gave something for everyone who came out -- whether they'd bought "Obscurity Knocks" on vinyl back in 1990 or got into the band two weeks ago.

The band, of course, had an advantage; in advance of the tour, they'd solicited song requests on their website from their fans. That, sometimes, can be like playing with sharp objects -- usually somebody wants to hear some b-side the band has not played in eons or, worse, a song only the person requesting really wants to hear. Luckily, the requests on this night fit well with the rest of the set, which featured many songs from the band's last album, In the Music. And a really nice touch to these requests? Frontman Frank Reader acknowledged which fan wanted to hear what.

That nod only added to the cozy vibe in the air on this night. Between the band and audience, there was much thanks and appreciation expressed between songs. But the band was very firm and professional.

And their playing impressed, too. Percussionist Stephen Douglas used every limb of his body to play bongos, a snare drum, a small tambourine, and even a triangle. (Oh, and he also sang rich backing vocals.) Paul Livingston remained hunched over his Fender guitar. Fellow guitarist John Douglas chimed in quite a bit with backing vocals, perfectly in sync with Stephen.

And, as Reader sang "Feel like I'm one of them" over and over at the end of "People," you couldn't really end the show on a more perfect note.

There was no encore, but that was not a problem. You could not top that.

Salim Nourallah perfectly set the tone of the evening with his near-hour-long opening set. With only an old Spanish guitar (and fellow sideman Eric Neal on electric guitar for most of the time), Nourallah engaged the audience quite well. Performing like he was playing in a friend's living room, he told stories behind each song, frequently cracking jokes.

Acknowledging his longtime fandom of The Trashcan Sinatras a couple of times during his set, there was a nice bookend when Frank Reader mentioned how Nourallah wanted to hear "Twisted and Bent."

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I wasn't impressed with Salim when I saw him open for The Posies back in November. This time, I was. Even though he played many of the same songs on this night, they worked better when reduced to the basics.

By The Way: Given the influence of The Smiths on The Trashcan Sinatras, I was surprised to see only one Morrissey shirt in the crowd.

Random Note: Walking into the venue, a country band downstairs played "Ticket to Ride."

Set List:
Easy on the Eyes
All the Dark Horses (request)
Twisted and Bent (request)
Carried Away
I Wish You'd Met Her
I See the Moon
Hayfever (request)
Trouble Sleeping
In the Music
Send For Henny (request)
I've Seen Everything
Obscurity Knocks
Weightlifting (request)
Oranges and Apples

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