The Tractor is such a cozy place. I love the little travel trailer wrist stamp. Have you seen the new bench? Because I REALLY like the new bench. I can’t say as I used it during Cataldo’s album release party for Gilded Oldies, but that bench is a stunner. Honestly, though . . . on this night I would have been standing on the bench, not sitting . . . if I hadn’t been right up front.
I’ve been anticipating Gilded Oldies’ release for the past couple of months after having stumbled upon Cataldo at Timbrrr! Fest in January. Mr. Eric Anderson and company stole my heart again at The Tractor with a horn section that at times sounded like slowed-down, smoothed-out reggae, and at others soulful or happy-70s. There was also gritty keyboard work, and Anderson’s vocals and lyrics, which sound nasal yet clear and are full of introspection and clever turns of phrase ( I like saying ‘chintzy figurines’ to myself over and over now). Anderson’s stage presence was arresting; maybe it’s the suit and dress shoes, or his conductor-like motions while singing “Black Lamb,” or that voice (which isn’t blow-it-out powerful, yet commands attention nonetheless), but when he’s up there, you feel like something special is happening, and that Cataldo is on the rise.
The band’s set, of course, was a rundown of Gilded Oldies tracks, and the crowd drank them in. The band sounded great; I prefer live Cataldo to the recorded version as the sound is much larger and emphatic and less controlled. For example, the live version of “The Beast” (“Noli me tangere, motherfucker” is the refrain) comes across as insanely sexy and full of attitude, far more so than the song (that I keep listening to on repeat) on the CD. That being said, the album is a gem and it was a treat to hear all of the songs together, live. “In Now And Then,” “Slow The Time,” and “Other Side” were huge highlights. And for the die-hards, the encore brought forth some Cataldo “oldies;” the crowd hooted its approval when “Drake” began, and then proceeded to sing along. Cataldo definitely owned the night.
The two opening bands made for an eclectic mix, first featuring the country outfit Henry At War, followed by the proggy-hipster-jazz-cum-metal band Heatwarmer. It was the second time that I’ve seen Heatwarmer, and the insanity on stage is starting to make more sense to me . . . I think. There is no denying that the band is made up of talented musicians. There is simply no way that they could not be, given the sheer amount of key/stylistic changes that occur in every song. Some parts of some songs sounded absolutely inspired, and I’m a huge fan of songs that “change,” as I call it. But, sometimes Heatwarmer is just too much, too frenetic, too wacky and epic for me. Heatwarmer reminds me of Rush combined with a circus orchestra on crack. It makes me smile, but gives me a headache. You should have seen the rat’s nest of cables that come with Heatwarmer. Holy cow.
Henry At War’s country music was sweet and intelligent. I love that lead singer Danielle Henry’s “scorned woman” listens to REM and Morrissey (“Pretty Mama”). Henry has a lovely voice well-suited to the music, which included acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, and pedal steel. Songs like “Roots” and “Didn’t Know” contained rather weighty subject matter to put a country treatment to, but Henry At War did just that, and it worked well.
Next time I’m gonna stand on the bench. Well, if I’m not up front again, that is.