concert reviews

At the 9:30 Club, The Stills' Endless Loop
The Stills at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Wednesday 12 May 2004

When the Stills opened for Ryan Adams at the 9:30 club last December, Adams joined Stills guitarist Tim Fletcher and drummer Dave Hamelin for three songs as a metal band they called Whorenet. On Wednesday night at the same club, there were no such shenanigans -- in fact, Fletcher almost apologized, introducing the song "Allison Krausse" as "the closest we're going to get to heavy metal tonight."

Much of the Stills' 55-minute set bled together, with slowed-down song endings morphing into new melodies. Fletcher, guitarist Greg Paquet and bassist Oliver Crowe literally shoe-gazed, hunching over their instruments as they pounded at repetitive chords. At times it was difficult to tell whether these transitions signaled a new song or just a bridge, and Fletcher's unenunciated vocals did little to clarify matters. A few songs did stand out, however, like the catchy "Still in Love Song," which had the thinning crowd bouncing in place as Fletcher's desperate confession ("You're selfish and a waste of space / but I'm still in love") escalated into a frenzy that was grounded by Hamelin's solid drumming.

Despite the repetitious tone to their songs, the Stills were amazing compared with the opener Metric, whose set began innocently enough with Emily Haines's New Wave vocals channeling some of the offbeat phrasing style of Portishead's Beth Gibbons. Metric's set deteriorated rapidly from there, as Haines's jerky dancing and exaggerated gestures (culminating in some painful writhing on the floor) distracted tremendously from the music.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 14 May 2004
.: Selected discography: Logic Will Break Your Heart (the Stills, 2003).