Out late on a school night

Or, come for the Ashlee Simpson, stay for the other stuff

To the two thousand of you who arrived here yesterday via yahoo! search looking for Ashlee Simpson, welcome. I didn’t know anybody still used yahoo! search. Yes, it is a funny video clip. No, I won’t email you a copy.

I went out on the town last night to see some music. Two Gallants, Robbers on High Street, and John Vanderslice were in town. I’ve been a fan of Two Gallants for a while, since I picked up their first CD last month, and had listened to a number of tracks from Vanderslice (who is almost ridiculously generous with the mp3s). Robbers on High Street were new to me, and while they are getting lots of play in the retro-rock indie circle (whatever that is), their set last night was only okay. Compared to Two Gallants, who opened, and Vanderslice, who headlined, they didn’t seem to have much energy. Their EP seems worth a look, still; I think they had some sound problems last night.

The other two acts more than made up for the lack of energy. The Gallants played the living hell out of their instruments; maybe beating up the drums is a way of compensating for seeming really shy on stage. At any rate the duo pulls off a great live set. But what really floored me was Vanderslice. His studio tracks are really good, with lots of layers of sound—really impressive production. Live, however, the songs take on a different vibe, this grand, energetic, glowing sound, which is amplified by some clever mixing (they manage to get this cool driving reverb sound from the guitars without drowning out the ethereal sounds of—of all things—xylophones, for instance) and the clear enthusiasm of the band. These guys are having fun, and it shows. It helps that they’re excellent musicians, too. I picked up a copy of Vanderslice’s newest album, Cellar Door.

To finish off the night, before tearing through “Speed Lab,” Vanderslice recommended that everybody download and check out the Ashlee Simpson video. And so we’ve come full circle.