Good Old War (12/3)

December 9, 2009

Thursday night was Good Old War’s first headlining show ever, at the Knitting Factory in Brooklyn. It was one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve been to in months. Every band that played was fantastic in their own way.

Gabriel the Marine played first, and I was most impressed with their electric violinist, whose form was impeccable. It was truly inspiring to watch him switch from mellifluous legato to crisp staccato in every song, and his style was very creative. Hezekiah Jones had a violinist as well, but her style was completely different, to fit their folky sound. Though she sounded good, something went wrong with her instrument in the middle of their third song, making her unable to play for a good amount of the rest of their set. Nevertheless, the band sounded awesome, and had an upright bassist, which I loved. Cast Spells was next – the solo project of Maps & Atlases’ Dave Davison, joined by Good Old War as his band. There was no denying their chemistry together on stage, and the songs sounded great. I was excited to hear “Letters,” a song off the new Good Old War/Cast Spells split EP.

Finally came Good Old War to the stage, with a new confidence I have never before seen in them. It was a good kind of confidence, the type that makes you smile when you see it, and think about how far a band has come since they first started.

1. Tell Me
2. Window
3. Just Another Day
4. I’m Not For You
5. Maybe Mine
6. We’ve Come A Long Way
7. Get No Time
8. Texas Blues
9. Breaking Down
10. Looking for Shelter
11. Get Some
12. Weak Man
13. Coney Island

It was the longest set I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing them play, and the best, too; especially on Dan’s part. You can always tell how good a guitarist is based on not only their familiarity with scales and theory, but also their ability to take that knowledge and turn it into something different and creative that puts an audience in awe. Dan Schwartz is without a doubt that kind of guitarist, and it’s always amazing to watch him switch from playing acoustic to electric in the middle of songs. At the same time, he’s also one of the most modest musicians I’ve ever talked to. There’s nothing more refreshing than someone so talented being as down to earth as that man is.

Good Old War’s vocal harmonies sounded better than ever, and they changed up a lot of songs off of Only Way to be Alone to make the set a little bit different from past ones. The three new songs that they played (Texas Blues, Breaking Down, and Get Some) showed off a new side of the band, and made me appreciate them even more. Smooth tempo transitions, unique guitar licks, and quite a few genres thrown together.

I couldn’t be more satisfied with the way these guys continue to write music that I could never find unappealing.