By Gareth Moore
Crooked Fingers strolled into Iota Bar, a fittingly intimate setting for them, and performed a (mostly) strong set. I use the word mostly because I had only one serious criticism during the show: the drums. The band consisted of creator Eric Bachmann on guitar and Lisa (but I could be mistaken with her name) on drums, guitar, backing vocals, and possibly more. I was initially uncertain about this middle-ground between bare production and the full band sound. Often the drums were so loud they overpowered the songs, devouring the other sounds. This wasn’t a problem during the angst-ridden songs; the drums were fitting with those tunes. Unfortunately the drums frequently seemed to be outside the music, rarely able to merge with the instruments. Aside from that, the show was by turns lovely and playful.
The set-list journeyed across Crooked’s career, occasionally visiting Bachmann’s solo work. The opening Man O War, from his solo album To The Races, was instantly striking. I had forgotten how he could easily shift his gruff voice into an effective falsetto. Lisa’s backing vocals were delicate and sensual, which led to a fitting counter-balance with Bachmann. This contrast shined during their duets, particularly on Sleep All Summer and Your Control.
I was happiest when hearing my favourite songs from my favourite Crooked Fingers album: Bad Man Coming and You Can Never Leave from Red Devil Dawn. The album is a dark affair, with songs that are seductive and disarming. The way Bachmann gently sings “Tonight, tonight, a bad man is coming for you” continues to captivate me. It was during You Can Never Leave that my heart skipped a beat. Even without the piercing violins on the album, seeing Bachman and Lisa pound their instruments and their feet to the song proved highly enjoyable. The crowd shared my glee over hearing these songs; we were applauding as they were beginning.
We were lucky enough to hear several songs from their forthcoming album (but, as Bachmann joked, they still need to record it). They were energetic and aggressive, as if he could unleash an album of dense and high-energy rockers. These songs were quickly beloved by the crowd, but everyone was just as happy for the band to weave their tales of pastoral beauty. Eventually a friend looked over at me and said “Oh my god! This is so beautiful!” I agreed with her.
Perhaps my one other criticism is the lack of songs from their two Reservoir Songs e.p.’s. I could be mistaken, but I don’t recall hearing any of them. Hearing their strong covers of Bruce Springsteen’s The River and Thin Lizzy’s Wild One would have pushed the show into excellence. This is not important since the show proved satisfying anyway. Bachmann displayed himself to be an underrated talent, capable of creating grim tunes and uplifting yet rowdy songs.