You know you’ve got a concert addiction when you’re going to see people you’ve never even heard of. In my experience, some of the coolest musical discoveries are made in those spur of the moment occasions. So, in that spirit, last night I decided to go check out King Wilkie at the Satellite Ballroom. Of course, I did some cursory research and found out they’re a bluegrassy-americana style band. It felt like a good night for that, so I figured it was worth a shot. I had an ulterior motive as well – I’ve really wanted to scope the venue that has replaced my beloved Starr Hill. I’ll cut to the chase – this place doesn’t hold a candle :( The acoustics were awful, the vibe was sterile and impersonal, and the parking is no longer free (unless you have a Charlottesville native with you, which fortunately I did). I don’t like to say only negative things – the seating options were better, and it definitely wasn’t as hot. Oh and there were some trippy projected images on the wall behind the bar. Yeah, I’m reaching :/
We got there right as Sarah White took the stage. There was no back-up band – just her and her guitar, which I respect the hell out of. Her voice reminded me of Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams, Sarah McLachlan….classic yet ragged. The flaws are what make it. Her songs are soothing, combining elements of country, folk, and rock. If you’re into a raw, simple sound and lyrics that tell a story, you’ll probably like this chick. You can check out a few songs on her Myspace page.
About 15 minutes after Sarah’s set finished, the gentlemen of King Wilkie emerged – six young fellas clad in button-down shirts and ties, easy on the eyes to say the least. They assumed their positions next to their respective instruments – an upright bass, 2 guitars, a banjo, a fiddle, and a mandolin. The first song was a real knee-slapper, conjuring up images of hoedowns and dosey-do. They lost their momentum after that first one, though. The next few songs were much softer, sweeter, and sloooowwwer. The fiddle and the vocal harmonies were gorgeous, and I was so relaxed I felt like I’d taken a Unisom. If I had been seated, I definitely would’ve been snoring. As I fought back the yawns, I told my friend Hillary how much more enjoyable this music would be if it were an afternoon show, or if I was lying in a hammock at the beach. I really enjoyed their sound, kinda similar to Nickel Creek and Union Station, with a 3-man vocal harmony reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Their timing and dynamic changes were impeccable, their songs were balanced and well-written – my only complaint was the choice of setlist. When it’s past midnight, you might wanna play something that keeps your audience awake. I will definitely be buying a CD though – if insomnia ever hits, I’ve got just the cure!