by Eric Sandy
The first set was nearly impossibly quiet. Breathtakingly laid-back tunes fleshed out the meeting of minds between Cleveland and the three musicians from Hoboken. Kaplan joked during the show that they hadn't always looked forward to coming to Northeast Ohio; back in the day, it seemed drearier somehow, he said. But these days, with 30 years of success in their wake, the band genuinely enjoys stopping by the Lake Erie outpost and the beautiful Beachland. (Or so he said...) He and bassist James McNew shared some stage banter about spending the day buying vinyl around town.
"The Point of It," which segued into the Georgia Hubley-crooned "Cornelia and Jane," absolutely took control of the emotions in the room as the show really started to take off. Each song brought the ballroom to an achingly heartfelt silence, reminding all who attended about the sheer power of live music.
One of the titanic moments in the night came in the form of a one-two punch off the band's latest album, Fade. "Before We Run" moved perfectly into a kicked-up take on "Ohm" deep in the second set. The band had opened with a quieter version of "Ohm" earlier in the evening, but this pairing was stratospheric. Kaplan's hallmark feedback swirls simply enveloped the room, bringing everyone closer together.
The second set wrapped up with a trip into outer space via 2006's "Pass The Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind." It's a fascinating song because, for nearly 15 minutes, McNew runs over the same four-note melody - over and over and over again. As a monolith in the back of the stage (whilst Kaplan rages and swings his guitar around his neck madly), McNew was demonstrating the depths of patience it takes to perform art in a live setting.
A four-song encore, including covers of under-the-radar tunes by The Cramps, The Kinks and Sandy Denny, left everyone feeling high as they left the ballroom.