At first blush, this may not appear the most charitable characterization of a band, but here goes: Lambchop is the circus freak of indie rock. In a scene where the general get-with-the-program design is for (usually) four or five people to make as much noise as possible, Lambchop, headed by that ol' contrarian Kurt Wagner, has persevered in recent outings to make the music of 20 people (give or take a few, depending on scheduling conflicts) sound pretty much like nothing.
But it's an elegant kind of nothing. On the band's most recent album, Is a Woman, the spare arrangements of horn, piano, and just about every other acoustic instrument in the known universe (plus some studio gadgetry) together evoke the languid silence of a country night. Played live, so much quiet emanating from so many can be unnerving -- the kind of show where you whisper for your Budweiser at the bar.
But though Lambchop will demand occasional moments of breath-holding in order to coax the right tone from its most deliberate songs, Wagner and company generally give themselves over to a more ramshackle, freewheeling sound. Not to mention the fact that they'll be tossing out a few of the older numbers, which frequently employ the talents of those 20 to make the noise of an invading army, albeit one with a very nuanced sense of the cross-currents of country, old-time R&B, and kicking rock and roll. There will, in other words, be ample chance -- and reason -- to drink.