Great Lake Swimmers

9 06 2007

After a tasty dinner at the best tapas restaurant in Philly, a friend and I caught Great Lake Swimmers in concert last night. I mentioned Great Lake Swimmers a few weeks ago because I’ve really been enjoying their new CD, Ongiara. My friend, who’d borrowed my copy of the album shortly before the show, thought the band was much better in person—and that’s saying a lot, I think, because the album is just damn good.

GLS’s lead singer, Tony Dekker, uses a fragile, folky, gentle delivery (think Neil Young, maybe), which lends the band’s songs a sort of permanent bittersweetness. Dekker seems almost painfully introverted, too, adding to the lonesome vibe. Take, for instance, my favorite Great Lake Swimmers song, “Your Rocky Spine” (which, by the way, is burning up the Canadian charts right now). It’s a love song that brilliantly analogizes a lover’s body to, er, mountain topography. Or maybe I have that precisely backwards. Either way, it’s a love song that leaves me feeling lonely. I love that. (No wonder I’m single!) Take a look at some of the lyrics:

I was lost in the lakes
And the shape that your body makes
That your body makes

And the mountains said I could find you here
They whisper the snow and the leaves in my ear
I traced my finger along your trails
Your body was the map
I was lost in there

Floating over your rocky spine
The glaciers made you and now you’re mine

There was a good crowd at the venue, the Tin Angel, a hole-in-the-wall listening room that’s one of my favorite venues. There was a prominent write-up in the Inky‘s Weekend section about L.A.’s Eleni Mandell, who was opening for GLS, and that may have helped fill the room. As it turned out, though, most of the crowd seemed to be there for GLS. I’m always relieved to find that a quality band has found fans….

I was definitely on the, er, upward edge of the age spectrum at the Tin Angel last night. And I can tell you why. After a long work week, a 10:30 p.m. Friday night show is a real struggle for the middle-aged body. When I rolled in after 1 a.m., I was T-i-r-e-d.




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