It is a rare occurrence in today’s over-amplified, bass-kicking sound world to leave a concert feeling as if you actually heard the music. Over the Rhine provided one of those concerts on Thursday October 2nd at Birdys Bar and Grill in Indianapolis. My personal congratulations to the sound guy, who’s mixing allowed the audience to really hear all the different layers of music and different instrumentation really being played.
Another rare occurrence; real songwriters and musicians playing their own music! The five-piece band is led by vocalist, Karin Barquist, and her husband Linford Detweiler, keyboardist and collaborator. The rest of the band consists of Paul Moak who played the sitar during the opening song and lead guitar during most of the others, Will Seyles on drums, and Rick Plant on bass guitar. But Barquist seems to be the key member in the band. She has all the qualities a good lead singer should have; great voice, good-looking, poised, mature and confident. She really runs the show up there, and makes it look effortless in the process.
The style of music cannot really be defined as one genre. The audience made it even harder to discern the kind of music being played. The people ranged in ages, gender, race, and dress. They just seemed like “real” people, not trying to be any part of one group, just like their music.
This mix of folky, pop, one attempt at a slowly spoken rap song, and country music produced all different kinds of songs. The songs have the type of lyrics that make you relate your own life to every single one of them. They’re deep, and well thought out. Barquist doesn’t just repeat the same nonsense lyric over and over. Her voice, to me, sounds a little like my favorite artist, Sarah McLaughlin. But it could really go any way she wanted; hard, soft, loud, weak, whiny, smooth, short and breathy. I have also heard her compared to singer Norah Jones. It seems like the marital bond between Barquist and Detweiler might have served as a source for lyric material.
On Thursday night, the stage at Birdys was adorned with oriental rugs, candles, and vases of flowers to create ambiance. It was nice, but they wouldn’t have needed it, the music spoke for itself. They played songs from two of their albums, Good Dog Bad Dog, but mostly their latest, Ohio. This album is the one that drew the crowd ...
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A couple of other songs they played were “Bothered,” “Cruel and Pretty” and “Changes Come.” If you had never heard the band before tonight, this is where you would probably think all the songs sounded very similar. Slow, piano and sad. The variety lies in the songwriting, if you start paying attention to the lyrics now, you’d have a different opinion. I almost think what they say is so poignant sometimes it should be in a book or poem by itself. But on the other hand, if you took away the way Barquist sings it, or the accompanying instrumentation, I doubt you would get the same idea. They can even make an acoustic guitar sound like it’s in pain and crying.
They performed two songs during a much appreciated encore, the title track to their new album, “Ohio,” and a freestyle guitar solo. Even though all their songs are pretty much slow and sad, I left the concert feeling as if I had just experience every emotion or feeling there was. There style is so soft and bare. They lay it all on the table, take it or leave it. Not interested in mainstream, happy with their underground following, and plus one more fan after the show in Indianapolis.
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