Music News

Last Night: Jacob Miller and Longwave at Studio A

Jacob Miller and Longwave

June 23, 2007

Studio A


Photo by Jeffrey Delannoy

Better Than: Waiting around for prime Saturday going-out time; the show got going around 10:00 and was over by about midnight.

The club doors opened at 8:00, and opener Jacob Miller took the stage at nearly 10:00 – just on time, by this city’s standards. Bathed in a blue light, the 22-year-old Miami native sat center stage behind his electric Roland piano. Reed-thin, he looked small but poised, his stage presence beefed up by the seeming deference of his band, whose members seemed to hang back just out of the spotlight. Impressively, his bassist used a sort of electric, mini standup instrument that he kept propped on a stool and sometimes played with a bow.

Miller himself plays with a focused intensity, looking out periodically but doing so with a seriousness fitting the tone of most of his songs. After his first song, he introduced the followup thusly: “Well, we all have one thing in common – you’re not good enough for someone.” Ouch! “Well, fuck those people,” he offered, launching into the actually laid-back hushed groove of “Love Me More.”

Miller’s considerably older-looking band is based in Nashville and is flown in for his larger gigs. Because of this, Miller previously told me, they never rehearse together beyond playing gigs. It was impossible to tell; they sounded enviably polished. The peak came during Miller’s last number, “You Can’t Go Back Again,” possibly the best track on his debut album, Who We Are. Live, it’s an almost-rollicking tune that builds in tempo and drama to the release of a well-placed harmonica solo. It’s a moment that is positively Dylanesque. More of these, and we’ll be hearing a lot more of Jacob Miller.

Next up were headliners Longwave, a shaggy, Brooklyn-based quartet that’s been plugging away for almost a decade now. Favoring a clearly Anglo-influenced, slightly spacey vibe often described as a “wall of sound,” they’ve attracted a cultish, devoted following, while larger rock success has eluded them. It’s not for lack of talent – onstage the guitarists possessed serious shredding talent. Maybe it’s because they’ve eschewed trends in wearing suits or eyeliner or engaging in performance histrionics. Bless ‘em for that, but their stage manner is modest almost to the point of seeming withdrawn. The set started off slowly, but increased in power and volume; by the end they were finally rocking in their post-shoegazey way.

And this is how modest they were: They didn’t play an encore, despite the audience’s calls for one. The encore is an abused thing: I’ve been keeping count since roughly, oh, the fall of 2004, and can count exactly ONE other band I’ve seen in that time that also avoided one. (Kasabian, Octoberish 2004 at Bowery Ballroom, NYC; I’m sure they would do one now).

Actually, not only did Longwave not do an encore, but nearly the second after they had left the stage, a DJ finally did come on, but playing soulful drum ‘n’ bass. The late-night event there was to feature sets by England’s Zinc and New York’s Reid Speed, along with actual jungle MCs, a species this former “junglist” (hah) girl was interested to see had not become extinct. Wish I could have stuck around for its peak hours. – Arielle Castillo

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: The only thing I could previously remember about Longwave was a vague feeling of being underwhelmed by them.

Random Detail: The before- and between-set music came from a prerecorded mix of fast “indie” megahits rather than from a DJ, as is usually the case at Studio A. Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” played twice.

By the way: This show was put on by Dogleg Records, the super-indie but super-professional local label that released Miller’s album.