Brooklyn Masonic Temple, Brooklyn, March 6
by Stephen Slaybaugh

It had been five years since Nottingham’s Tindersticks had brought their sad sacks to these shores, which would seem to indicate some anti-America sentiment were it not for the fact that it’s been just as long in between albums for the band as well. Their latest, The Hungry Saw, while seeing the band shed members, didn’t lose a thing in the process, and may turn out to be the Tindersticks’ crowning achievement, which this show at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple further proved.

The band fittingly began with “Introduction” from Saw. Even with singer Stuart Stapes offstage, the Tindersticks still numbered six: original members David Boulter (organ, keyboards) and Neil Fraser (guitar) joined by Dan McKinna (bass), Thomas Belhom (drums), Terry Edwards (brass), and Andrew Nice (cello). Beginning with just a simple piano line and gradually adding parts, the instrumental was—as it is on the album—like the show on a micro level, adding dimension and emotional weight as it progressed. With Staples joining the band for “Yesterday’s Tomorrows,” though, the true gravitas of the band was brought to fruition. His distinctive warble is part soul crooner and part Anglo-Saxon shaman, alighting each muttered word with a blue flame dripping with ethylic emotion. That he didn’t even acknowledge the audience until more than midway through the show is indicative of how fully absorbed he was in the words he was singing and perhaps the fact that having listeners may have been completely irrelevant to this personal catharsis. The slow groove of “Yesterday’s Tomorrows” made each vocal gesture even larger and drenched in Levi Stubbs tears.

Predictably, the Tindersticks favored the new record, eventually making their way to “Boobar,” “All the Love” and “The Turns We Took.” The last of these was again a slow-burner, progressing almost unnoticeably from wist to writhe. But while the songs from Saw predominated, “Dying Slowing,” from 2001’s Can Our Love... was unquestionably unparalleled, the refrain of “So this dying slowly, it seemed better than shooting myself,” at once wrought with so much passion and pathos that few other songs can match.

While the performance deadened a little with the encore of “Her” and “My Sister” due to the natural plateau of Staples’ vocals, the show’s heightened ardor otherwise never waned. It may have been long in coming, but even with another five years of waiting, this night would still have been well worth it.

Davila 666
Southpaw, Brooklyn, March 6
Don Pedro’s, Brooklyn, March 9
by Eric Davidson

The Gene Shalit blurb would read something along the lines of, “They’re like a Puerto Rican Black Lips.” They’re from Puerto Rico alright, dark romantic peepers, black mesh tank tops, an underlying rhythm like you’re surprised they chose such Lips-ly hooch-gulp garage rock to which to dedicate their livers and the next couple years of their lives. But they did, and for that we shall all buy more Rosetta Spanish tapes. Actually, it’s next to impossible not to try to sing along to Davila 666’s songs anyway, as they hang on pretty amazing hooks and beats that spring from the ’50s greaser end of the Black Lips’ reinvention. It’s still odd to get one’s melon around the fact that the Black Lips are already influential (damn, seems like just yesterday I saw them nearly burn down the Cafe Bourbon Street bar in Columbus, thinking, “These lads are gonna blow a kidney ’fore they’re 20”). But as evidenced from two recent NYC area shows, there’s a future for these hard-partiers too, beyond the initial spark they might’ve received when the Lips or Hives came through their favela.

On Friday at the sizable Park Slope club, Southpaw, they were opening for the Reigning Sound. The club was near packed by the time Davila came on, and their eyes were lit up like they couldn’t believe their good fortune. (I believe they’ve only played one smaller NYC show previously.) There’s a likely chance something else lit up their irises, but it seemed like they were mostly swigging water on stage. As for the crowd of countrymen smashing about up front, well I guess there just aren’t enough indigenous Puerto Rican rock bands coming through town because the collection of svelte sons and lovely daughters exploded with amorous abandon like it was the first time that devil beat had ever entered them. The band fed off it, and it became the most fevered r&r set I’ve seen in town in a year. One 6'5" cat who flung himself around like a discarded mic stand was tossed out by the second song.

A six-piece, Davila’s got the two-guitar, bass, drums thing, with a mincing, wrist-flinging beer-gutter up front daring the crowd to reach his heights of perspiration. They add another tamborine slapper, and each and every member yalps along to nearly every word, the kind of gang-get-it-together that many modern bands could learn from. About 45 minutes later, with nearly their whole recent In the Red debut displayed plus a couple newbies from an upcoming single, and it was apparent this was one of those shows folks will say they were at once Vice releases the fourth Davila record.

The band played Connecticut Saturday and Hoboken Sunday, also with the Reigning Sound. So by Monday’s late appearance at Bushwick, Brooklyn’s venerable dank Valhalla, Don Pedro’s, the 666-ers seemed about ready to unwind with a joint—literally, as they passed one around the stage—and call it a morning plane trip back home. Good show no doubt. Some more of those inebriated brethren returned, and the band won over more converts to their surprisingly tuneful slop. The rotund lead guitarist kept his cool comrade hat and smart jacket on the whole time, displaying a sturdy suave also lost on many an indie act o’ the ’00s. And, oh crap, did I mention the drummer?! If he doesn’t have four arms, then he’s at least got a penis with a thumb.

But hey, it was a Monday, and the expected post–Black Lips crowd never really materialized. (The Lips had played earlier in the eve in Brooklyn.). Yet it was just packed enough to make it hard for Davila’s pals to rush to the bar and get ’em a quick beer. Nevertheless, effortless energy seeped the joint, the Monday was like a good Wednesday, and all were left looking forward to the full U.S. tour the band is planning for this summer.