Review: The Unsane at the Marquis, 5/23/11
Tom Murphy The Unsane
With Holly 750 and Clinging to the Trees of a Forest Fire
05.23.11 | Marquis Theater
With very little fanfare, The Unsane took stage and immediately played one of its best songs, "Against the Grain," with that great doleful neck-and-body bend in the beginning that is one of guitarist and singer Chris Spencer's signature sounds. Within the span of a fifteen or sixteen song set, The Unsane played songs from across its career.
Spencer later apologized for playing long, but it didn't seem like anyone minded hearing a number of the band's classics. Many of the songs came from the 2007 album, Visqueen. This included a crushing, blistering renditions of "Only Pain" and "Last Man Standing."
Someone in the audience requested "Strangler" and Spencer said we could blame that guy. But once the harmonica came out to play the intro, alongside thick as lava bass lines and impressionistic percussion -- all of which went direct into the hot air blast of the rest of the song. This was made slightly curious due to the passing resemblance of the song to "Twist of Cain" by Danzig.
Tom Murphy The Unsane
At one point, Spencer joked about how no one in the room was old enough to remember the band's early singles, and then the group went into a song that was uncharacteristically anthemic and bright rather than the cutting assault of its later material. The same guy who asked for "Strangler" started asking for two of the remaining songs in order, without really knowing the set list, and so the band played "Sick" and "Body Bag" before closing with the largely instrumental "Get One."
All on stage joking aside, when the band was well into its songs, you'd be hard pressed to find an example of a band that can create sonic heft to the same degree as The Unsane. Chris Spencer's vocals only really bear comparison to John Brannon but his band's music was not like Negative Approach, Laughing Hyenas or Easy Action, but the feel of witnessing an unfettered burst of pent up emotions and frustrations channeled into song was very much present throughout.