IRON & WINE + CALEXICO + Timber @ Spectrum

By Mikaela Bobiy - Lessons in Lo-Fi - 12/08/2005

This being one of the most highly-anticipated shows of the dwindling year, I had great expectations for this collaborative musical bonanza, and the Southerners did not disappoint. The show began with a bang with local band Timber, who provided a highly-energetic set and elicited an impressive response from an already packed Spectrum. Next, Calexico took the stage for a raucous set, featuring both old and new material. The band, which now includes six members, played a variety of instruments, from the trumpet to any number of percussive implements, lending a mariachi feel to the majority of their numbers. I also want to mention the band’s visuals, which were comprised of grainy, sepia-toned projections of Western-themed footage (deserts, horses, cacti, etc.) -- very hypnotic.

As promised, Calexico’s set was followed by a delightfully languid set by Sam Beam, a.k.a. Iron & Wine, with back-up vocals from his sister. Where Calexico energized the crowd with clap-alongs, Iron & Wine seduced the crowd with quiet lullabies, playing material from their several EPs and full-lengths. Although his stage presence was less than that of Joey Burns, Beam still managed to woo the audience (or me, at least) with his shy and intimate delivery. Highlights included a quiet rendition of "Jezebel", completed by projections of starry Western skies.

Already four hours (!) into the show, Calexico and Iron & Wine took the stage together, and proceeded to play, in order, the majority of their collaborative EP In the Reins, with the last two tracks of the album serving as an encore. The songs themselves were infused with the energy of a live setting, which in turn, seemed to spread to the artists, making what could have been a marathon affair seem fast-paced.

All in all, it was a most impressive evening, sparking a strong appreciation of Calexico and solidifying my already existent adoration of Iron & Wine.

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