Local act Slowdim went on just before 9:30 p.m. at Great Scott in Allston, Mass. Even this late, the crowd was still pretty sparse, and I was concerned that the venue downgrade headliners the Twilight Sad had been subject to (playing the 408-cap Brighton Music Hall back in February and now a 240 room here) was well beyond justified. About a half-dozen onlookers or so watched the band play a mostly steady and well-rehearsed set of melodic alt-rock that I detected a big R.E.M. influence on at certain times. It didn't really grab me, but the band sounded pretty tight for the most part.
When Errors went on, however, the floor area right by the stage was noticeably more packed out. The Twilight Sad's fellow Glaswegians were a trio that exhibited Canadian friendliness and played a heavily electronic mix of post-punk and post-rock with indecipherable, dissonant vocals on most songs (They made a lot of sense on the bill given tTS's recent foray into more keyboard-driven, '80s-vibed darkwave on this year's No One Can Ever Know). Almost like a vague halfway point between Tears for Fears and the Mercury Program, with some probable influence from homelanders Mogwai. A pretty interesting setup for the Scottish headliners for sure.
While I felt a tinge of sympathy for the Twilight Sad for, as aforementioned, somehow playing a smaller venue here than on their last U.S. tour (because this clearly wasn't some underplay stuff), I was excited to see them in an even more intimate venue, where both stage and ceiling are lower and interaction is more up front. And it was great. The band seemed extraordinarily grateful that anyone showed up at all, and they navigated songs from their diverse catalog (everything from the majestic, upbeat feel of 2007's Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters to the brooding, shoegazing thump of 2009's Forget the Night Ahead and icy post-punk of No One Can Ever Know) with relative ease.
Granted, the setlist was predictable (same as the BMH show minus three songs), and there were a few hiccups: After the suffocating "Reflection of the Television," a monitor and drum machine shit the bed, and it seemed to stall frontman James Graham's confidence as he stuttered a few of the opening lyrics to the next song, "Nil." Still, watching them play was something special. I couldn't help but feel like the band will become one of those legends that grows with time. Like a select few of us were witnessing something truly great that people will be aching about missing in another 10-20 years.
Graham was an earnest, engaging character. "'I Became a Prostitute,'" he stated matter-of-factly before his band launched into the towering, chilling single from Forget. He barked at the ceiling during "And She Would Darken the Memory" in one of his sporadic fits of emotional theatricality, while he looked meditative during an elongated take on the following song, harrowing closer "At the Burnside."
He looked tired, as did the rest of the band, though Graham referenced a non-stop touring schedule that was finally culminating with this, their penultimate show of the year. Here's hoping they get some rest and start work on a record the world will really notice so that they can come back here, play multi-hour sets and mix up the set to include awesome, oft-neglected cuts like "The Wrong Car" and "Made to Disappear."
Set list (11:31-12:29):
- That Summer, At Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy
- Don't Move
- Dead City
- I Became a Prostitute
- Reflection of the Television
- Cold Days from the Birdhouse
- And She Would Darken the Memory
- At the Burnside