May 6, 2015
Mikal Cronin / Bowery Ballroom // May 5th, 2015
First time seeing Cronin play his hits and truth be told, things were better than alright. Having just released the follow up to 2013’s awesome MCII called, shockingly, MCIII, Cronin and band peppered in the new stuff throughout with strong mind to keep the new song to old song ratio within the acceptable limits, lest a New Yorker lose his/her cool and fold up the arms (and once the arms fold it’s a well documented fact that they tend to stay stubbornly set in their stance.)
EZTV got the proverbial ball spinning with a set of semi-inspired relax-core. The 4 piece were in their element playing to Cronin’s crowd of mostly young white men wearing different shades of gray. Not much in the energy department but they’ve mastered the grown-up guitar chord and used them sparingly while the drummer sat back in the beat. One of their last songs was pretty and catchy, and I thought that it must sound great on record but thinking back to it, I can’t remember the melody. It did make me want to seek them out in the inter-world and see what they conjure up digitally.
Up next, a man I took to be 52 years old came up with an acoustic guitar and sat alone hunched in the spotlight rocking the blazer-over-t-shirt thing. William Tyler was/is his name. With his head tilted to the “brood angle” he began finger-picking like a man lost in his own personal sea and the room collectively paid attention. When he was done with the first acoustic-only number he started to talk and it was then that I realized he was in his mid twenties. I cursed him under my breath and waited for the next song. More of the same manic-hypnotic plucking from this Nashvillian but that was okay with me/us. The ship slowed a bit when he decided to sail off during a 10 minute long therapy session with his looper and delay pedal and it seemed as if he wasn’t coming back as he repeatedly tweaked and pinched at different guitar pedals spread out before him, but he managed to make something of it all in the end. Tyler’s destination, as a whole, was worth the trip and I hear good things coming from the good captain in the days ahead. God speed.
When Mikal Cronin and his Silver Bullet Band took the stage they did so with a sheepish, almost humble gait. Scooping up that 12-string he’s so smitten with, Cronin said something like “Hello” or “Hey there” that was immediately followed by a ham-fisted slam by the keyboardist before launching into MCIII‘s opener “Turn Around.” See, right there is one of the reasons this Cronin is the truth. Open the show like you open the album. I fucking love that. The band was at the top of their abilities tonight and really dug into the songs, playing both new and old tunes with something comparable to an inspired grudge. The thing is, is that when the songs are of a quality like these, any player with the right kind of passion will turn ’em up in every sense of the word. I listened as old favorites like “Apathy” and “Weight” were fed endorphins and gently pushed out to sea. The drummer, whose name is nowhere to be found, flailed wildly and played with both a loose and deliberate style that reminded me of Mac McNeilly from the Jesus Lizard crossed with Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac. I found myself watching and smirking as he drove the songs dangerously close to the brink before pulling back and letting the guitars catch up. The whole show had this subtle undercurrent of potential collapse that good bands can sometimes summon but Mikal Cronin and his boys aren’t just a good band they’re a fucking great band… and great bands have it understood, to quote Melville, that “It’s not down on any map; the true places never are.”
Full speed ahead.
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