Israel Nash Performs ‘Rain Plans’ LP In Sunny SoCal

Israel Nash live by Matt Matasci

Los Angeles – With a warm breeze blowing through the dry Southern California air, Angelinos could enjoy a pleasant stroll through the balmy “winter” night on their way to see Israel Nash and his band put on a roots-rock rendition of his latest record, Israel Nash’s Rain Plans.  While it was just another frigid Tuesday evening of shoveling snow for much of the U.S., here in Echo Park concertgoers had the audacity to hang on the back patio between sets, even in the dead of winter!  All regional-climate-related teasing aside, it was an impressive performance for the Texas-by-way-of-New York singer-songwriter and his four-piece backing band.  With Nash manning the guitar, an additional guitarist, a lap steel guitarist, bassist and drummer, the band fueled the night with ripping guitar solos, soaring five-piece harmonies and a righteously laid-back ambience.

Posting up in front of an enormous lion-and-gazelle-adorned tapestry that matched the motif of Rain Plans’ cover art, Nash took stage along with his bearded compatriots.  The band wordlessly kicked off their set with the mid-tempo opener from Rain Plans, “Woman at the Well.”  In fact, “wordless” would have to be the operating term for the band’s modus operandi during the first half of their set.  Though it seemed like a bizarre approach at first, this radio silence made a lot more sense once Nash addressed his devoted audience after the fourth song.

Though it was not mentioned anywhere in the promotional materials for the show, Israel Nash and his band were performing Rain Plans front-to-back, song by song.  Clearly, taking a break between the first four songs to address the audience would have killed the momentum that had gradually built with each solemn, psych-tinged “desert folk” song.  Once the band put the finishing touches on “Who In Time,” Nash explained that the band was playing their latest album cover-to-cover.  And once the silence was broken, it became obvious these were the opposite of standoffish guys, preaching about helping out friends and keeping a positive attitude in life.

During the set, Nash explained that Rain Plans was inspired by Dripping Springs, the tiny town in Texas’ Hill Country to which he had recently relocated after living for years in New York City.  Each track told a story about a person or place that Nash had experienced as he transitioned to life in this speck just outside Austin; it was clear that he relished sharing these tales with a broad national audience.  Occasionally he would explain what the meaning behind the song was, but for the most part he just let the music do the talking for him.

By the time the band hit the album’s titular centerpiece, they had the crowd mesmerized with their moving take on Americana.  Audience members were dancing and singing as various members of Nash’s backing band took turns displaying their instrumental proficiency on songs like “Myer Canyon” and “Through The Door.”  But “Rain Plans” undoubtedly took the house down, as the band did their best “Free Bird” impression, carrying on for nearly 10 minutes with thoughtful lyricism and jaw-dropping solos.  As the band closed out the track, they showed their innate ability to massage the most out of a groove without exhausting it, a skill that seems to have escaped too many roots-rock bands.

Israel Nash continues up the West Coast on his Rain Plans tour for a few more shows. Nash will then return home to Texas for an appearance at SXSW and three dates at the Old Settler’s Festival.  Check his website for more concert details.

Photos of Israel Nash by Matt Matasci

Matt Matasci

Matt Matasci

Perhaps it was years of listening to the eclectic and eccentric programming of KPIG-FM with his dad while growing up on the Central Coast of California, but Matt Matasci has always rebuffed mainstream music while seeking unique and under-the-radar artists.Like so many other Californian teenagers in the 90s and 00s, he first started exploring the alternative music world through Fat Wreck Chords skate-punk.This simplistic preference eventually matured into a more diverse range of tastes - from the spastic SST punk of Minutemen to the somber folk-tales of Damien Jurado, and even pulverizing hardcore from bands like Converge.He graduated from California Lutheran University with a BA in journalism.Matt enjoys spending his free time getting angry at the Carolina Panthers, digging through the dollar bin at Amoeba, and taking his baby daughter to see the Allah-Lahs at the Santa Monica Pier.
Matt Matasci