[photos courtesy of P Squared Photography]
Maybe an opening set by Hiss Golden Messenger at Music Hall of Williamsburg doesn’t merit quite the word count I gave April’s homecoming show at Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw, NC. But it was the biggest New York stage on which I’ve seen this band, and that makes it another milestone for M.C. Taylor and his fellow travelers. Fresh off a European tour, the band spent this first of two nights in New York opening for the Tallest Man on Earth, but judging the room capacity at the start of this set, HGM was the night’s draw for many of us. This was almost the exact same band we saw back at Haw River — Taylor, bassist Brad Cook, his brother Phil on keys, and Matt McCaughan on drums — minus William Tyler.
Clearly, this team is road-tested and hitting their stride, seeming to have found an even deeper, jammier groove than when we saw them in North Carolina. This sound gels well with the Lateness of Dancers record, so it makes sense that its songs — “Southern Grammar” and “I’m A Raven (Shake Children)” feel like centerpieces on this run. We were also thrilled to hear the new song “Say It Like You Mean It” for the second time. It’s possibly the most “rock” song the band has done to date, and should be a live staple for the foreseeable future. But even at that, it ended up being a Poor Moon song that stole this particular show, as the journeyman sax player Michael Lewis joined the band for the definitive live version of “Blue Country Mystic,” with Lewis adding a new layer to a song whose current live arrangement already feels transformed from its album version. While you’d always prefer to see a band you love as a headliner, I suspect this and some even higher-profile opening slots are going to earn HGM a lot of new fans, and they seem poised and ready to do it.
HGM will remain on the road June and July, touring with My Morning Jacket, hitting festivals, and returning to the general vicinity of NYC on July 25 for a show at Woodstock’s Bearsville Theater. See all the dates here.
Stream the complete set:
Hiss Golden Messenger
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Brooklyn, NY USA
Exclusive download hosted at nyctaper.com
Recorded and produced by acidjack
Soundboard [engineer: Nic Cameron] + Schoeps MK41V (at SBD, DFC, PAS)>KC5>CMC6>>Roland R-26>2x16bit/44.1kHz WAV>Adobe Audition CS 5.5 (align, mix down, fades, light compression)>Izotope Ozone 5 (EQ, effects)>Audacity 2.0.3 (track, amplify, balance)>FLAC ( level 8 )
Tracks [Total Time 40:19]
01 Call Him Daylight
02 Saturday’s Song
04 Say It Like You Mean It [working title]
05 I’ve Got A Name For the Newborn Child
07 Blue Country Mystic*
08 I’m A Raven (Shake Children)
10 Southern Grammar
* w/ Michael Lewis on saxophone