all words: Andy Hess
all photos: Brandon Hirsch
Towards the end of The Tallest Man On Earth’s set Friday night at The Black Cat, the girl standing in front of me let out an audible sigh and rushed towards the door as Kristian Matsson left the stage.
But her apparent disappointment was joy for a lot of the other people in the same room. Especially Matsson’s. For most of the night the folk troubadour with a voice similar to another folk singer was awestruck by the amount of people that came to see his show and had no trouble letting the audience do the singing to his more memorable tunes.
With the majority of the material from the even coming from Matsson’s great release The Wild Hunt, he spent the next hour captivating the audience with his stories of love and loss. “The Gardner”, “King of Spain” and “You’re Going Back” seemed to draw the loudest voices and applause of the night, but it was the attentiveness of the majority of the crowd that made this show truly special.
It was a disappointment to see him walk off stage at the end of the night because I could have watched him play the same set for another hour. Matsson’s songs are full of surprise and wonder that each listen deserves the proper attention to detail. I was glad to see that D.C. paid attention long enough to experience them.
While The Tallest Man On Earth was spectacular, Portland’s Nurses had a pretty large draw as well. With their blend of folk and electronics they had The Black Cat wrapped up in their set by the third song.
Having missed the band every time they’ve been on a bill that I’ve had to review, I was glad to finally catch their live show — other than their Chat Roulette performance. Playing songs from their recent release Apple Acres, Nurses started strong, but started to wane towards the end of their set.
Nurses songs unravel with each listen on record, but after 30 minutes in a live setting everything started to blur together in a wash of electronics and syncopated drumming. It’s not bad music, it’s just better experienced with my headphones.