Monday, May 6, 2013

Parallel Chills

It was that little amp that looked so out of place at Live at Ipanema tonight.

Not the amp, per se, but who the amp was for.

Dating back to the first time I saw White Laces in the courtyard at First Fridays in May 2010, I have been a fan.

And after three years of seeing them play practically everywhere around town, I can say with certainty that I have never seen them play with an amp so small.

But then, Ipamena is a small, low-ceilinged room with little space for the sound to spread out in, so it was brilliant.

When I arrived, I was surprised to see a friend, a first-timer at Live at Ips, already in place, holding the first cigarette I've ever seen him with.

Another friend had posted earlier that he'd be there enjoying tequila and I found him two in, which seemed like a good time to tell him about the largest tequila menu in town at a place I'd recently visited.

His best line was, "I usually go with Reposado. If I start heading toward Anejo, I just go with bourbon."

Another friend, whom I'd seen earlier today when I was in front of the Byrd, gave me the lowdown on his brunch at Portrait House.

Meanwhile, my cake date was waiting for me in the back, eager for our monthly dessert and dish time.

It was her first time seeing White Laces, so the small amp didn't strike her as oddly as it did me.

Maybe that was because she was distracted by her hummingbird cake, while I scarfed my chocolate cardinal cake (red velvet cake with chocolate icing).

We finished licking our forks just as the music began.

Leader Landis acknowledged the size of his apparatus immediately, saying, "We're White Laces and if this is too loud for you, we'll just have to stop."

The band had attracted a good crowd and even won over some people who'd come in to eat and ended up lingering to hear the music.

They sounded incredibly tight, which they always do, but the feel of their set was much looser tonight and a friend and I acknowledged that Live at Ipanema is one of our favorite series for that very reason.

We got to hear some of their new stuff, some so new that Landis introduced it as, "This song is so new it doesn't have a title yet. But it's our new jam."

As a long-time fan, I was also thrilled to hear some old jams, like "Honeywood."

Naturally, Landis had to be self-deprecating about playing older stuff, saying, "This is an old one. We said a while ago we'd never play this shit again and here we are."

After nailing it, he admitted, "That was way better than I thought it would be," while it was just as terrific as I'd known it would be.

A friend had just rolled a cigarette and was heading outside to feed his addiction when the band started "Hands in Mexico" and he wisely thought better of leaving.

You could tell the band, or at least Landis, was more relaxed than usual by his stage banter, which included not one, not two, but three song intros of, "We have two more songs."

Each time, they did indeed have two more songs, and Landis promised, "Just a couple more and we'll release you back to your drinking."

With them sounding practically perfect, the big wooden beams of the room  absorbing the sound and warming it up, it had to be one of my all-time favorite White Laces shows and that's saying something.

During one of their old songs ("We stopped playing this one live because it was too goth-y"), the sound vibrations managed to move a wine glass off the rack and on to the floor.

What could be more appropriately goth-like than breaking glass mid-song?

Sitting on my stool with only occasional views of the band, I couldn't help but feel the kind of chills you get when the music is sounding so good, so sure that you know it's a show people will remember for some time to come.

I'll just say it was one of my all-time favorite Live at Ips and I've been to all but one.

When they did get to their true last song, Landis closed with a joke, saying, "One more then we'll take a smoke break and come back and do all Taylor Swift covers with Jimmy on his ukulele."

And, yes, there were even a few people who cheered at the thought.

That said, if they'd come back after smoking and played anything else, I'd have stayed happily on my stool to let their well-executed dreamy psychedelia wash over me until closing time.

I don't need a big amp to be impressed.


  1. That was one of the best sounding shows I've been to in a long time. Hats off to Allen!