Los Angeles – Historic Filipinotown’s Bootleg Theater has consistently drawn some big names in underground music to this quiet neighborhood wedged between the 101 and Downtown LA. Despite boasting these strong bills, the venue remains one of the city’s best-kept secrets for music fans looking to watch well-known bands perform in an intimate setting. With a low slung stage and little in the way of a barrier between the audience and the musicians, fans can almost literally reach out and touch their favorite artists. One such big name to appear at The Bootleg Theater is Brooklyn, NY’s Widowspeak, who made an appearance on stage at the Beverly Boulevard venue on Wednesday.
Fresh off of their critically acclaimed third album for Captured Tracks, All Yours, the duo of guitarist and vocalist Molly Hamilton and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas were joined on stage with their bassist and drummer, rounding out a fairly standard rock and roll configuration. The band has been celebrated for creating dreamy, hard-to-categorize indie pop sounds on previous releases The Almanac and Widowspeak. Their latest full length takes those elements even further with Thomas’ mesmerizing, slightly country-fried guitar licks and Hamilton’s soothing vocal melodies. The band has been busy on tour in support of these songs both during the summer prior to the release and the subsequent fall; after several shows it is clear the band has perfected these new songs in a live setting.
While Hamilton and Thomas do not take liberties to dramatically alter the structure or sound of their songs in a live context, these are not carbon copies of the recorded versions either. The ricocheting chorus guitar riff of “Narrows” stood out in a much more dramatic fashion on stage, perfectly complementing the imagery of the lyrics and Hamilton’s vocals. Other songs off of the new album included the gorgeous title track “All Yours” and the slowed-down, breathy “Girls”. The band also dipped into their back catalogue, giving long-time fans a taste of their early album nostalgia.
Towards the back half of the band’s set, they performed a cover that is starting to become a staple of their live show. As Thomas launched into the now-iconic guitar riff of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, the crowd cheered with knowing applause. While Widowspeak mostly offers a straight cover of this sultry late 80’s classic, their stylistic touches managed to shine through nearly every aspect of the song. Thomas’ guitar riff was just a little more bending and soulful, and Hamilton’s feminine vocals allowed the audience to ponder the song from a different perspective. There was more than just a little bit of irony in this choice of cover, and Hamilton couldn’t help but giggle as she sang the song’s melodramatic closing line, “Nobody, loves no one.”
Widowspeak continues on in support of All Yours with a pair of appearances in Denmark, seven stops in the United Kingdom, one date in Germany and one in Denmark, and finally two shows in Sweden to close out their European tour.
Check the Widowspeak Bandcamp page for more information on tickets.
Photo Credit: Matt Matasci