Whoa, somebody let the big dogs out of the gate. Wow. I hadn't seen King Sparrow live for longer than I'd realized, and watching them grow as a band in real time has been thrilling. Where, as a young band, their show started out tight and precise then relaxed into a sense of casual mastery, now they've turned yet another corner into an explosive, physical ferocity. I don't know if it's just that they've been cooped up in the studio for the past little while and were ready to reconnect with the energy of a club crowd again or what, but last night at the Empty Bottle they seemed hungrier, and thus more energetic, than I've maybe ever seen them. Old faves from the Derailer EP were present and accounted for ("Forest" just keeps opening up with secret byways and melodic turns every time I hear it), but goosed by the addition of the new tunes they've been working up for their debut long-player, even these familiar songs seemed to vibrate with new intensity.
Eric is steadily pushing his own boundaries as a vocalist, much to the songs' benefit. A few perfectly calibrated, well-placed howls here and there provided a nice little pinch of danger to offset their immaculate chops as musicians. He and Sean (the band's secret weapon) also seemed to be interacting more on stage than I've ever seen them. Watching the way musicians watch each other while they're playing is always one of my favorite things about seeing a band in concert. Then, of course, John's drumming always seems somewhere on the verge of full-scale detonation, in the best way possible. Even though he's one of my favorite local drummers, I always forget how ferocious he can be, the way I forget what the exciting warm springtime feels like after a winter full of ice and snow.
I know I'm not going to convince anyone that already hasn't been convinced at this point that they need to pay attention to these guys. It just makes me stupidly happy to live in a city where I can take the bus a few miles south on a random Thursday night and hear some soul-explodingly good music for less than I would pay for a sushi dinner. Go find 'em on MySpace or Twitter or Facebook (or in my frustratingly blurry pics), and revel in the joy of good, local, live music.