There are few things more exciting than being able to witness a band that has been putting in lots of hard work coming into their full creative power as an ensemble. I was privileged to see that very phenomenon last week, when I caught Nathan Xander and Witchouse doing an impromptu tune-up gig at The Horseshoe on Lincoln [BTW- Horseshoe is a very cool place, with kick ass Texas barbecue, a very friendly staff, and free live music several nights a week].
Nate and his mates have been rehearsing like demons lately; tightening up their playing, embellishing and perfecting their arrangements, and generally adding new wrinkles to their sound and song craft; and damn has it payed off!
They launched into their set before the sparse late Thursday night crowd as if it were a packed house, and after a few moments it might as well have been standing room only, the way they rocked it out with unconscious abandon. They became one seething writhing mass of musical asswhuppitude (word collider) much the way that the greatest Americana bands do live, and really took it to the next level. Nate’s songwriting isn’t (quite) yet on a par with Jeff Tweedy, John Prine, or Townes Van Zandt, but he’s getting very very close to that level; and from a sheer musical/instrumental standpoint, he and his cohorts are as good as anybody out there right now (including Wilco and all the other indie Americana heavy hitters).
These guys are my friends, but I’ll swear on a stack of bibles or take a freakin’ polygraph that I’m not just blowing smoke; I’m really blown away by how much they have collectively stepped up their game. Check out their new video (previous post) if you don’t believe me.
Nathan and Witchouse are playing at Schubas (one of the top indie music venues in Chicago) on Monday, November 16 and I can’t encourage you enough to go see them. Yeah, I know it’s a Monday; but if you enjoy hard-driving yet poignant Alt-Country/Folk Americana Roots Music (think Crazy Horse era Neil Young/Uncle Tupelo/Whiskeytown/Bottle Rockets) then you really should drag your butt out to see these guys.
I’ll be there rockin’ out like a big mad monkey, so say hi afterward and I’ll tell you a touching boyhood fishing story or something equally memorable.