The Don'ts and Be Carefuls at hi-dive, 8/31/12
THE DONT'S AND BE CAREFULS @ HI-DIVE | 8/31/12
The Don'ts and Be Carefuls have never been ones to skimp on their emotional generosity on stage. So in that regard, this final performance was not that much different from the band's already high standard. But it was just a notch better because on this night, these guys performed in a way in which their love for the music was palpable and their appreciation for the fans was unmistakable. What was assumed would be a well-attended night turned out to be a sold out show.
At the beginning of the set, Cody Witsken distributed balloons in the audience. Later he remarked that he had blown up some two hundred balloons and then counted only eight. From the stage, Witsken opened up bags of party favors and threw them to various sections of the audience. A funeral should not be a morbid affair, he said, but rather a celebration and that that in a similar spirit, he wanted to make his band's last show a party. Fortunately the crowd went along with it enthusiastically and pretty much every song people sang along.
Opening with "So Money," it was obvious the guys were indeed going to deliver on the implied promise of a great show for their last with this band. Casey Banker's expressive and emotionally vibrant vocals amid upbeat and insistent rhythms and bright melodies and the way this band has always been able to transport to a better place in the mind and in the heart made you forget this was going to be the group's last show. It's the kind of pop music that sweeps you up in its momentum with lyrics that shine a light on vulnerable places and times in a person's life with a rare sensitivity and compassion. All without an ounce of pretension.
With the sound mix this night, it was even more obvious than ever that the DBCs integrated rock instrumentation with synths better than most bands ever do. In that sense it achieved the kind of sonic alchemy accomplished by its heroes, LCD Soundsystem. There was still that refreshing melodic catharsis that scrubbed the haze of everyday frustration and blandness from your mind with every song.
Tom Murphy The Don'ts and Be Carefuls at the Hi-Dive
With a selection of songs spanning four years of writing music, The DBCs played older songs like the always powerful "The New World" (which Witsken dedicated to Kissing Party) and a song that Luke Hunter James-Erickson said was an early, silly one, "Insomnia." At the very end, the guys even performed the first song they ever wrote with "Color TV." But the whole time they played the music with a joyful energy that could be seen on their faces, especially James-Erickson, who looked even giddy at times. If any of the band's songs could be considered silly, it should be chalked up to development; most of us should be so lucky to write such good songs out the gate.
During the aforementioned "The New World," the band was joined on stage by Britt Rodemich and Kissing Party's Gregg Dolan who sang along with Banker at times. Then more people joined in later during another song, but it got to be too much, and Banker hinted that later in the set it might be okay. And then at the end, it seemed like a third of the audience got up on the stage and right before the end Banker had an issue with his guitar so he just took the mike and didn't lose a beat as he and the rest of the band brought the night to a close with one of its most beloved songs among many.
Tom Murphy I Sank Molly Brown at the Hi-Dive
The night started off with I Sank Molly Brown. The trio set up near the front of the stage in a line with John Moses to stage right, Caleb Tardio in the middle and Dylan Self on stage left. There is probably some significance to this as the band has played in this arrangement for some time now, maybe from the beginning. Either way, Moses seemed to pack a lot of power with his combination of kick and floor tom strikes because those along with Self's intricate but rhythmic bass lines seemed to give the band more of a robust low end than one would expect.
In the beginning of a song somewhere toward the end of the set, Moses joked about a song title, though with these guys it could be real, and then the three of them played the first bar or two of "Barracuda" by Heart. Someone in the audience feigned being disappointed. Earlier on, Tardio warned us the next song was new and Self said, "This is the musical equivalent of a married couple playing 'strangers' at the bar."
What followed was one of the outfits most interesting and varied songs. If you tried to count the time signature changes, or maybe just the chances of pace, you might have gotten lost. But you also would have missed the point of the song just being fun for the band to play, while also being incredibly entertaining, as Tardio punctured the Battles-worthy labyrinth of a song with cathartic vocalizations.
After it was over, Tardio laughed and remarked, "If you were wondering why there were so many notes out of key, we are wondering too." After the show speaking with Tadio, he said it was an experiment in not -- and this isn't his word -- over thinking a song in writing one. If the song in question is any example, it's a good flash of intuition to follow.