Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Aug. 7, 2009
Oikos/Mother FalconLamberts, July 30
How many local musicians does it take to fill a stage? At Lamberts, all of Mother Falcon and its offshoot Oikos. Ten Oikosians crowded onto the small, low, wooden stage at the tony Downtown space fast becoming a hub for that which it's seeded and nurtured from the very start: native acts born of Austin's youngest, smartest demographic. Maurice Chammah, a senior this year at Cornell, studies archaeology and travels to cities in the Middle East neither you nor I would dare visit, but when he's home here, the young violinist and pianist leads a large band: three violins, three cellos, accordion, bassoon, trumpet, guitar, bass, and drums. Accordingly, given the space constraints, two of the group kicked off its 40-minute set from the floor, Tamir Kalifa stoking his accordion beside whom one presumes was Chammah. With the stage-front crush of under-21s in the already bustling room, it was tough to tell who exactly was serenading the hungry youth while also rubbing elbows amongst them. Mixing sound for 10 largely acoustic instruments was no picnic either, not with half that many mics onstage, so Oikos' orchestral roots dramas trumpeted less bassoon and cello overlay and a lot more Okkervil River – obvious reference point for the next wave of homegrown singer-songwriters. "This is pretty much all of Mother Falcon onstage," announced Chammah – that much you could hear, that and closing foothold for the newly acquainted, "Umbrella." While the bands may have been essentially the same, their fans apparently were not. Perhaps the midnight hour thinned the summer session set and their parents, but Mother Falcon, piloted by Nick Gregg on vocals, cello, mandolin, and guitar, crammed at least one if not two additional players on the club's corner wedge and proceeded to navigate an altogether more composed flight path. A Broken Social Scene in the sense that more voices could be heard within the chorus – saxophone, lap xylophone, Gregg's mandolin – the band hummed along even when the the frontman's vocals were no match for his duet with guitarist Claire Puckett. Kalifa's best Morrissey vocal was tough to beat, too. Mother Falcon's rugby scrum produced though, coalesced. If Chammah favors Will Sheff, Gregg leans toward Andrew Bird. Together, they fill music venues.