Reviewed by Melanie Haupt, Fri., July 21, 2006
Emo's, July 14
Anyone who hasn't caught a Shearwater show in the past couple of years was in for a big surprise Friday night, as the once-sleepy Austin-based quartet revealed its fierce side. The set's most transcendent moment occurred early on during "Red Sea, Black Sea," when the rhythm opened up behind Jonathan Meiburg's banjo and Howard Draper leapt into the air, beating his tambourine with an ecstatic, almost religious fervor. Meiburg performed with intensity heretofore unseen, and it's clear that he's gaining confidence as a frontman. He's got a way to go, though, as he robbed the night of its energy with a long, rambling story about a research trip to the Galapagos during the last 15 minutes of the set. Prior to that, San Francisco's the Court & Spark turned in an impeccable performance on the strength of their latest release, Hearts (Absolutely Kosher). Dressed identically in white Levis and white linen jackets, the fourpiece delivered a set possessed of a dozy, Seventies-FM affability, the Allman Brothers shaking hands with the Grateful Dead. Points off, though, for the band members' chatting extremely loudly at the merch table during Shearwater's set. Ever hear of professional courtesy, fellas? Intrepid souls with enough stamina for nearly four hours of music were treated to intimate acoustic sets from Chris Flemmons of Denton's Baptist Generals and Michael Kingcaid of What Made Milwaukee Famous, who closed his set with an a cappella Billie Holiday number. The night would have been a steal at half the price.