all photos: Shauna Alexander
Couple of things you should know first: The Love Language played to a full house this past Monday at the Black Cat, on the first leg of their “Libraries” east coast mini tour (the album came out yesterday). And… it was a near perfect show, at least in my book.
Everyone has the things they hope that (any) music (show) will bring (on): some want to laugh, some want to cry, dance, sing along, make out, see a performance and not just listen to music, be able to stand unnoticed in a corner…you know, things. Feelings and moods evoked. On a good show day, a band will deliver, say, 4 out of 6 of those needs. Love Language, lead by Stuart McLamb, capably and confidently, delivered on all accounts.
Kicking the set off with a heartfelt “Stars” from their (eponymous) debut, and then diving into a string of so-super-close-to-perfect pop songs from “Libraries” (including a super charming “Days in Love”, one of the demo bonuses on the album, which feels really good and happy live, the kind of song you instantly know how to sing along to by the time the second chorus hits), it was all high energy goodness non-stop.
One of the best things about The Love Language songs is that they feel like the music everyone would want to write, if they just knew how. There is something very old fashioned and comforting about the way a song of theirs goes about itself: the guitars soar, the drums drive the point in, the bass is always steadily there and you hear it just when you need it, the keyboards add a playfulness, and the choruses are so singularly catchy and sing-alongable (so much so that the band actually mostly does vocally come together on all of them), but it is never ever boring and they all just know when to stop so you want a little more.
In a time when so many bands try to add gimmicky instruments and treatments to their acts, just for the sake of “differentness” (which usually masks some sort of a deficiency, i.m.o), Love Language chooses do do exactly what a (real) band should do: play great songs really well.
Its the kind of (rocking) pop they would write in the Brill building, if the Brill building was still around: big emotions shared in deceptively accessible ways. A spoonful of sugar, after all-makes the medicine go down (so much more easily).
It, of course, helps the band is great on stage: all shiny energy that always feels genuine (there is a reason we’ve had them play every single big party of ours from Inauguaration in 2009 to SXSW) and an unwavering enthusiasm for their own material. They radiate a good time. When, after “Heart to Tell” (the lead single off of “Libraries”) as their (expected) last song, they retreated only to re-emerge for an encore (no one was leaving that room, and they knew it), they sang us “Manteo” and then did a big-balls-out rendition of “Lalita” with Missy tambourining in the audience and a massive scream-along-to every word you knew-these kids will be more than alright.
(p.s. Pree opened and I would write about May’s lovely voice that I will never get bored of and our general tender feelings for the band, but we’ve done it so many times before that I will just point you towards Mitchell and Francis’ much more capable musings on the topic of them)