When I think of Langhorne Slim, I think of a talented guitarist who crafts folk music often backed by strings and banjo with just a hint of well-placed soul. So when my friend asked me last minute if I wanted to go see Langhorne Slim and The Law at Neumos, I gladly agreed. What I did not know was that what he really meant was if I wanted to go see Train reincarnated (if Train was dead. Is Train dead? Is Train a person or a group? I don’t know).
[Ed. note: No, Geran, Train is not dead.]
To be fair there were some immedieate signs that the show was going to suck. Here is a list of them:
- The opener was a 16 year old, Sawyer Fredericks, who had won that show The Voice (though, to give him credit, he had very beautiful hair)
- The average age in the audience was like 50. Most did not have hair at all.
- Dude came out in a tight ass blouse and a bowler hat.
Now none of those things should make one write off a concert; the age of the people in the venue and their style choices has no effect on the music. So I shook those shallow thoughts of doubt from my head, and grabbed a drink as Sawyer Fredericks went on stage. Little did I know I would need about 5 more to get through his set. He went through an uninspiring set of songs ranging from pop to the boring radio-safe part of folk. The dude could sing, but it was not very interesting music. My friend and I discussed why Langhorne Slim had chosen such a bad opener, which in hindsight should have been another sign about how the rest of the night would go.
The most impressing thing by far about his set was how into it the crowd was getting. This guy had fans. It was a little weird that most of them were at least 4 times his age, but still; when his set ended, there was a stream of people leaving the venue! They had come just to see this guy. I couldn’t believe it. When I was 16, I couldn’t even get my friends to come to my soccer games, and this guy was inspiring middle-aged moms to hire baby sitters just to see him. I was impressed. Appalled, but impressed.
Langhorne Slim soon came on in his previously mentioned bowler hat, which was apparently a thing—as people in the crowd were raising their own bowler hats into the air and making me feel extremely self-consciousness about my lack of a bowler hat. It was not a feeling I ever thought I would experience. He then launched into a set full of upbeat songs full of hand clapping and “How y’all feeling?” The music that followed wasn’t bad, per se. Like if I heard it on the radio, I probably wouldn’t change the station. But I wouldn’t say it was good either. I usually like the guy’s music too, so it was strange to be so not into the show. The whole thing just came off as corny and forced.
Ironically, the highlight of the night was definitely Casey the keyboardist (not sure if that was actually his name but I’m going with it), his additions on the keys—often in the style of a whirling organ—were the most musically interesting part of the night. It was ironic, because Casey was also part of the reason the show was terrible. His sound definitely gave songs an extra step with the infusion of soul it brought. But when you decide to do that to all the songs—it gets stale awfully fast, and ruins the delicacy of a lot of the songwriting.
I thought it was a poor decision on the part of Langhorne—but the crowd disagreed. Neumos was bumping like a boozy end of the year PTA party. People were going nuts, never more so than when Langhorne Slim came down into the crowd; a feat he repeated multiple times. Each time he made balding men sway and induced middle-aged moms into fits (I literally saw one swoon as he passed).
“Changes” did manage to remind me why I had come to the show in the first place (The Law wasn’t on the stage for that song), and Langhorne Slim definitely commanded the stage and flexed his unique vocal prowess throughout. So yes, there were plenty of cringe worthy moments and I felt very much like I was at a Train concert, or at least what I imagine that would be like. But at the end of the day, it is always cool to be in a room where everyone is positive and feeling the music, and Langhorne Slim managed to create an environment where that was possible.
GERAN LANDEN | Bowler Barren | KXSU Music Director