concert reviews

Crooked Fingers at the Black Cat, Washington, DC, Thursday 24 March 2005

Partway through Crooked Fingers' show on Thursday night at the Black Cat, frontman Eric Bachmann and the rest of the band grabbed instruments (two acoustic guitars, an upright bass, a flute, a trumpet, and a stripped-down drum set) and filed into the center of the club's main floor.

From there, the sextet performed four songs unamplified, with Bachmann's voice projecting clearly over the hushed crowd on songs like "Weary Arms." The audience wrapped itself tightly around the group, while fans on the perimeter attempted an impromptu line dance during the up-tempo "Valerie."

Onstage, Bachmann was equally captivating. His rich, throaty voice exuded maturity and wisdom with a blend of Neil Diamond's casual talk-singing and Tom Waits's feverish rasp. Lara Meyerratken balanced out his gravelly sound: The blend of their voices lingered through the choruses of "Andalucia," in contrast to the urgency of Bachmann's solo verses.

Every song seemed to be performed with a different combination of instruments, as band members quietly stepped offstage when they weren't needed. These varying arrangements during the 90-minute set allowed certain sounds to be highlighted without seeming overused: the jubilant trumpet part in "Sweet Marie," the shimmering keyboard line in "Twilight Creeps," and the grinding guitar strumming in "Bad Man Coming." But whatever the arrangement, amplified or not, Bachmann's poignant songwriting shone all night.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 26 March 2005
.: Selected discography: Dignity & Shame (Crooked Fingers, 2005); Red Devil Dawn (Crooked Fingers, 2003); Crooked Fingers (Crooked Fingers, 2001); Bring On the Snakes (Crooked Fingers, 2001).