Concert Review + Photography: Say Hi & Blair at High Noon Saloon (Madison)

Say Hi (Seattle), Blair (Brooklyn) and Crane Your Swan Neck (Madison)
February 23rd, 2011
High Noon Saloon in Madison, Wisconsin

Gallery: Say Hi & Blair at High Noon Saloon

With the Capitol all foggy on a Wednesday night, a few of us managed to take a break from the strangely alternate universe going on over at the Square (America doesn’t protest like this, this often, it’s peacefully impressive), to swing by the High Noon. Crane Your Swan Neck opened up with a concoction of indie, folk and rock emphasizing far more than any other band the state of affairs in our state. Cellist Patrick Reinholz not only tied the sound, but gave it the extra umph to rise above the venue’s saddle, carrying Randallj Luecke’s vocals. Versatile, they left an impression as Kenny Monroe switched between bells, bass and backup vocals. It may seem weird, as my friend laughed at the description, but they have the swagger of Jack White with a humble folksy spell, but somewhat from a southern bayou. Don’t know how I came up with that, but I feel it befitting. Check out “Staple My Heart Closed” on their myspace.

Brooklyn’s Blair came up next with her form of indie pop rock, think a mix between The Cranberries and early Rilo Kiley. The lead in of “Rampage” started a rather tepid, but wonderfully pleasant set that picked up with the upbeat “Candy in the Kitchen” that the calm audience warmed up to. Her performance was very tight, perfectly reflective of her album and perhaps aided by her drummer, who doubled duty with bells in one hand and a drumstick in the other at times. The dream pop behind “Hello Halo” emphasized her sweet, softspoken voice while the closing “Paris, France” lulled the audience in to visions of grainy, toned ’70s film reels of getaways.

Say Hi ended the evening in Madison. By this time, the audience seemed a bit restless be it through alcohol or post-protest malaise. For some reason, the lightly driving constant drumming got some of the crowd moving, while the hump in Wednesday took over the others. For me, the lack of enthusiasm on stage after some more moving sets sucked out a lot of the energy needed to move, to really chug forward. The talent was there, it’s just I’ve seen better performances.

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