A lot of great bands play with their hearts laid out on the stage, and while that much is blatantly obvious in These United States, what’s especially true for singer Jesse Elliott, and what I generally find to be rare and unique, is that he seems to stomp all over his own laid-out heart and crush it until its sufficiently crushed–or so it feels like when you see them live; because there’s never a doubt that the entire band is attuned to translating of all that self-combustive energy into an unforgivingly awesome performance, even when some of the members are especially drunk! These shows aren’t really about how refined the sound is, though, nor are they about the most intellectual beats: they’re an experience that’s best mirrored by some of our most primal bodily expressions without which we’re unable to have any meaningful existence, really, and without which things like progress and innovation are worthless: blood, sweat and tears! Which is probably why anyone who’s paying attention, and whose soul isn’t in a deathly shape, goes home blown away by performances from this band. And if they ever become massively successful, I hope that these are the three things (blood, sweat, tears) they never lose grasp of–it’s like they’re made of solid dirt and that’s where it’s at!
Download “Honor Amongst Thieves” and continue to watch the video.
“Six Fast Bullets / Sun Is Below & Above”
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By the time These United States was readying to take the stage, I’d already seen them live at least four times. But I was strangely giddy with excitement, and I don’t think my heart stopped racing until that entire set was over–there’s just some sort of a regal elegance the band takes on when they’re standing on that stage in that particular basement. There’s a special wavelength alignment phenomenon thing happening between that stage and that band. Unlike the second half of the room at Union Hall, which tends to suck without a fail these days (don’t you know you’re supposed to clap at the end of each song?!), I was close to the stage, around which there was this big ball of sound that you really didn’t want to get out of. I think this ball tends to lose its gravity past the first half of the low-ceiling room, and different layers of the sound probably washes over each other, but up front, it was all really wholesome and powerful, even though the volume on Jesse’s voice was too low the whole time. In all honesty, though, I’ve yet to see a show that was as impressive as this one, and, needless to say, the video only captures a small part of it.
The Canadians referred to in the beginning of this video are Rural Alberta Advantage, who played right before them. I’ll post a video from their set soon.
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Feb 06, 2009