Owen - live in Cambridge (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


live in Cambridge (2024)

live show

Ever since Owen started collaborating with musician, producer, and Bon Iver member S. Carey years ago, he entered a bit of a new era with some really lush and densely layered albums. Owen’s newest, The Falls of Sioux, is really no different; it was almost stunning how great lead single “Beaucoup” sounded when released a few months ago, given how deep Mike Kinsella is into the Owen catalog by this point. He’s still producing really quality stuff this many albums and songs later.

The Falls of Sioux dropped recently, so naturally, Kinsella embarked on a tour to support. As neat as it would be to finally see him go out with a full band (not named American Football), his solo shows are always really intimate, personable, and charismatic, and this one on a Wednesday night in Cambridge, MA’s Central Square was no different.

Lily Seabird opened things up first. I arrived as she was a few songs in, warming up the crowd. The Burlington, VT-based singer/guitarist played pretty minimal, melancholic folk with a serious twang, providing more of a country counterpoint to Owen’s indie/emo while absolutely maintaining the emotional vibe of the gig.

Kinsella walked on stage and began tuning no less than five or 10 minutes after Seabird finished (it probably helped that they were sharing gear). As he set up his first tuning, Kinsella recounted his last show in this area, in 2021 at Brighton Music Hall in neighboring Allston, and immediately apologized that this show wouldn’t be nearly as cool. At that one, I remember something about the interactions being very funny, not to mention he had an audience member prank-call a local Christian faith hotline.

But still, for all the awkward silences, stop-starts in the songs, and pleasant needling of the crowd to engage, this was a good one. His songs from the more recent albums offered a different, more stripped-down interpretation, obviously, and it put them in an entirely new, stark light. A bonus American Football cover was a great treat, too.

After “A New Muse”, someone asked Kinsella his favorite Depeche Mode song; he couldn’t remember the title, but replied with a vague description that made it seem like he was doing a bit. I thought he was doing a bit, but later on, he remembered in a spur of clarity: “You Move” (I’m almost positive he said “Your Move”, actually; but the closest song title Google is showing me is “You Move”, which seems curious since it’s from a 2017 album). For “Breaking Away”, he prefaced it by telling us about his new puppy, and then tried some experimental riffs.

Maybe this show wasn’t as “cool” as the 2021 experimental comedy hour, but it was certainly a warm and amiable affair.

Set list (8:35-9:38):

1. Wanting and Willing

2. Mount Cleverest

3. Dead for Days

4. Bags of Bones

5. A New Muse

6. The Contours

7. Virtue Misspent

8. Playing Possum for a Peek

9. Breaking Away

10. Lost

11. Empty Bottle

12. Home Is Where the Haunt Is [American Football cover]

13. Hit and Run