If you thought the walls of a fortress keep out the wind, you’d be wrong – those not crammed in front of the stage at the Keith’s birthday party last night shivered for their choice (but at least the beer stayed cold). You'd also be wrong if you guessed that people would use the dozens of recycling bins clustered throughout the site.
After an opening slot from WreckHouse, Paul “Crush” Lamb’s cover band, followed by a raucous, hat-wearing, swears-slinging Slowcoaster set, hometown heroes Wintersleep took to the stage and kicked off their 90-minute, 15-song performance with “Drunk on Aluminum,” the opening track from their acclaimed latest album Welcome to the Night Sky.
The set was comprised of well-selected tracks from all three records, including the oldie-but-goodie “Snowstorm,” which seemed like an odd choice, but less so when you consider the closing lines: “Let’s forget about the bullshit/and just concentrate on drinkin’/all night,” though the crowd seemed to miss its cue to cheer. A new song (the refrain was “Encyclopedia of hurt”) was darker and tighter (“this sounds like The National,” said Rich Aucoin) and the whole band pulled out the creepy “Ooo-ooo-ooo” intro in “Oblivion.” The radio hits “Weighty Ghost” and “Orca” were saved near to the end, sandwiched between the 20 minutes combined between two other songs, “Miasmal Smoke and the Yellow-Bellied Freaks” and longtime set closer “Nerves Normal,” with Loel Campbell’s stomp-and-pound making it possible for your ears to be hurting despite the giant space. Keyboardist Jon Samuel was visibly frustrated during the finale of “Yellow-Bellied Freaks,” wrenching his mike around, and then, I am told, broke his guitar, but I didn’t see it happen. During the long climax of the night’s final song, it occurred to me that across four years of Wintersleep shows, I’ve probably spent two hours of my life listening to “Nerves Normal.”
SET LISTDrunk on AluminumArchaeologistsCalibreNew Song (Encyclopedia)Jaws of LifeMurdererDead LetterAstronautOblivion SnowstormMigrationWeighty GhostMiasmal Smoke and the Yellow-Bellied Freaks
ENCOREOrca Nerves Normal