Saturday, March 21, 2009

Felice Brothers at SXSW Lucero Picnic

Show review:
Hardcore fans hail the Felice Brothers as Americana’s second coming. Call them urban saviors of the jeans and T-shirt crowd.

Perhaps. New York’s most forward-thinking roots rockers absolutely combusted Habana Bar Friday night. Rising crowd tension — the joint was stuffed unmercifully, compounded by literally overflowing outhouses (only one per sex) and a single drink station — fueled its fire. “Hello, friends and family,” lead singer James Felice howled against a tide of white-hot enthusiasm. “This song’s about drinking whiskey and killing your woman. C’mon, boys!”

Unhinged enthusiasm immediately backed the band’s reputation. Beer drinkers and hell raisers united blissfully. The road went on and the party never ended. Clearly, these folks weren’t new to the show.

But Friday afternoon’s appearance at the Lucero Family Picnic at the Dirty Dog - before everything grew a touch worse for the wear, the band drinking Lone Star tallboys like water - better showcased the Felice Brothers’ recent artistic strides. Material from the forthcoming masterwork “Yonder is the Clock” both torpedoed hearts and shook homes. Easy highlights like the scattershot country blues “Run, Chicken, Run” and “Ambulance Man” offered brilliant Southern Gothic narratives.

Real American idols provide faith to the hopeless and eternity to the lifeless. “Oh, how sweetly I do sleep on the bathroom tile where the porter sweeps,” James warbles and moans on the profoundly poignant “Penn Station.” “With a nickel in my hand like the star of Bethlehem.” Few eulogies chill as deeply. Austin360