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The Steely PingWi-Fi Reviews Oh Whitney, Guests @Live Oak

February 17th, 2013 · Tags:Arts · Cities

 

Last night may have been one of The Fort’s finest hours. In a relatively small venue – Live Oak off Magnolia — Fort Worth music heads circled up around one of the best musicians in the world — Donald Fagen … composer, producer, studio musician extraordinaire, co-founder of and singer for one of the true supergroups — Steely Dan.

 

Rather than some arena rock spectacle or an elaborate black-tie classic concert for PBS, it was local band — Oh Whitney — that brought the Steely one to Cowtown for a little pickup game.

 

So what was it that attracted Fagen to the band? One story is that an OW member spotted Fagen at a beachside resort and approached him. The two shared a drink, exchanged a disc and before you could say “Rikki don’t lose that number” Fagen agreed to produce the OhWhits.

Last night the mentor fired up his keyboard with the locals under his tutelage. Ha … tutelage, such an odd word. I digress …

 

Oh Whitney was really impressive, even without the added star power. Confession: I had not heard them before but the band has obviously been around based on their stage presence, confidence and music.

 

Oh Whitney

 

Always hard to describe music … easy to make comparisons. Early in the show there were certainly some similarities to the more bluegrass-ish moments of The Grateful Dead’s long strange trip — falsetto vocals, sweet mandolin. But the band is more multifaceted than that, emulating the rhythm of a train on the tracks at one point and then building into a bit of a reggae beat, showing signs of country and rock. At one point in the show, I was reminded of Denton’s Midlake, but with only about one third as many musicians.

 

 

All the while Fagen was weaving in and out with his cool, jazzy, Deacon-bluesy keyboard stylings adding yet another flavor. Improvisational. At times funky. It worked ever so nicely. One can only think the Oh Whitney-plus-one chemistry onstage will lead to great things in the studio.

 

Oh Whitney … all the ingredients and a master producer on board — 6 pings.

Has anyone else noted that Fagen somewhat brings to mind Ray Charles … slightly … as he leans to and fro and rocks around behind the keyboard in ever-present glasses? I digress …

 

 

Live Oak’s concert room is small enough that the show seems intimate and civil. Fully loaded last night … it probably squeezed in 300 people … I’m guessing a large percentage were Facebook followers of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram‘s Bud Kennedy, based on demographics … and considering his FB posts were one of the earliest hints of Fagen’s appearance. For the record, yes, Bud was there “reelin in the years” like the rest of us.

 

I might also add that for the most part, the crowd looked like a gathering of McDavid’s regulars gone south, with all ages mixed in including socialites with their grown children. Oh … this was interesting. When was the last time you met an air traffic controller at a concert? My new friend, David (I think it was), could swap Steely Dan-isms with the best of ’em, having chilled with The Dan in concert four times — when he wasn’t doing one of the most stressful jobs known to man.

 

 

 

As I am prone to do, I checked for Wi-Fi at Live Oak after the warm up band and before OW+1. Good news/bad news. Live Oak is with hotspot, yet, one must hunt down a passcode to deliver their updates with Wi-Fi. Boo.

 

Live Oak

 

Now … about this warm up band …

 

 

Animal Spirit

 

 

Animal Spirit broke the ice around nine o’clock. Interesting. A very visual band, with a frontwoman who dances and writhes (in a good way) as much as she sings. The bassist is accomplished and in my opinion a young John Malkovich doppelganger. The drummer is — like me – the token long hair and is one of those hardest-working-men-in-show-business types … head down, back there just a kickin it. Now … about the lead guitarist … midway during the show, he laid down his axe and tied a base drum around his neck, beating it for all he was worth. Meanwhile, the singer was discipling a wine bottle with a drumstick for added percussion and everyone joined in on vocals … almost a cappella, almost experimental. Interesting. Ha … I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I found the guitarists’ rawhide, lace-up workbooks interesting. His axework … fast and impressive. Pump up the vocals.

 

Animal Spirit

 

 

And the crowd who showed up in time for the opening act … LOL … I am usually put off by drunks who want to be part of the live show at a small venue. But at this show at Live Oak, it was charming as a cougar-licious momma yelled “hot hot hot” at the gyrating songstress on stage.

 

How they sound?

 

(Always the comparisons …)

Reminiscent of Minutemen, early Sabbath and Bow Wow Wow in a mash up. Great developing musicians, but these animals seldom jelled in their compositions … tended to “walk on each other.” If they master arrangement, they may have something. For most of the show, the vocals were inaudible — even though they were fun to watch — perhaps an error at the mixing board. Who knows, Animal Spirit may have something to say.  Nice bass vibes, aggressive drummer, quirky but proficient guitar work and that dancing spectacle.

 

Know what I sayin?