concert reviews

Craig Wedren at the Black Cat Backstage, Washington, DC, Sunday 15 January 2006

During Craig Wedren's 75-minute set on Sunday night at the Black Cat Backstage, it was easy to tell which songs were written with his old band, Shudder to Think, and which were products of his recent solo career. Not only did the former feature rowdier arrangements, they also received a heartier reception from the crowd, who was quick to show enthusiasm for such rockers as "Hit Liquor" and "X-French Tee Shirt."

But Wedren devoted most of the set to his mellower solo material. In fact, these laid-back arrangements were even more captivating than his more aggressive material. The hauntingly plucked melody of "Kingdom" was augmented by the song's slow pace, while glimmering guitar chords balanced Wedren's melancholy falsetto on "Fifteen Minutes Late." In addition to performing with a three-piece band, Wedren further enhanced his songs' arrangements by looping and layering his vocals to create lush counter-melodies on such songs as the catchy "She Don't Sleep."

Opener Amy Miles joined Wedren on background vocals for much of his performance. Her own set featured husky vocals and up-tempo songs reminiscent of '90s alt-rockers the Breeders. However, such comments as "I need your support, like, for real" and a micro-miniskirt that exposed frilly red bloomers made it difficult to take Miles seriously as a musician.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 17 January 2006
.: Selected discography: Lapland (Craig Wedren, 2005); First Love, Last Rites (Shudder To Think, 1998); Pony Express Record (Shudder To Think, 1994); Noble Hatch (Amy Miles, 2005).