Photos by Brandon K. Hernsberger
Elvis Perkins, sly as a foxtrot, sings folk music that like sounds old people disguised as a dance floor - like ba ba ba, or skip-to-my loo. Bring in the ironic headbands, or: folk singers talk like nice people, probably because they totally love all up on Jesus. Which is a weird context to bring to Walter's, mostly because those who frequent the venue are oftentimes there only because they want to say they were, or are there so they can prove to themselves that the cliché that "I come for the opening bands" really is true.
Walter's cultivates this kind of scene, practically revels in it - and the live show sometimes lacks because of it. So the audience Wednesday night, largely comprised of those scene kids' parents, seemed confused and lonely.
For his part, though, Perkins didn't seem to care. He ripped through thirteen or so songs in a way only he can, with a style part rock and roll, part pop, part country, part gospel, part danceabilly. Call it folka-dot. The set was mostly made up of songs from his new record, Elvis Perkins in Dearland
, rather than his first, Ash Wednesday.
I think the audience was glad for that, because Dearland is much more conducive to live shows. Songs like "1,2,3 Goodbye," "Hey," "Chains, Chains, Chains," and "Send My Fond Regards to Lonelyville," all seem plucky for listeners' ears, while something like "Emile's Vietnam in the Sky," while perfectly fine on the album, falls a bit flat in front of a crowd.
But as is always the case with Elvis Perkins, what really got the audience going was the litany of instruments all lined up military like on stage (if you've never seen the stage at Walter's, try this: go into your bathroom and shut the door, see how close you are to that wall? That's how big it is).
Big bangy drums, accordion, upright bass, acoustic, electric and bass guitars, harmonica, keyboard, trombone - the instrumentation was vast and, in a way, made the show more interesting than it should have been given that it was a folk concert and folk concerts are, for the most part, really boring.
But Perkins puts on a great show, and he knows how to rapport with a crowd, particularly a crowd who would under normal circumstances rub his head or pinch his cheeks but definitely call him tyke. And because of this, Perkins can really do no wrong in the folk game, and he seems to know it. With the wearing of the pink and the look-at-my-chest-hair attitude, Elvis Perkins and Dearland might just be the band that takes this kind of music and makes the cool dudes turn around - hey, the stage is up here.