Live: Bill Callahan Sees How Low He Can Go | Music Briefs | Indy Week
Pin It

Live: Bill Callahan Sees How Low He Can Go 

What makes Bill Callahan a mesmerizing performer? He has two expressions—one shyly, slyly neutral, the other a stanky guitar face—and two stage moves. Sometimes he prances a little, like a kitten marching on a duvet, and sometimes he adds a sort of "move away from the mic to breathe in" maneuver, like in "Chocolate Rain." At his Duke Performances show Saturday night, he told two stories, an incomprehensible bit about a man in tiny running shorts and a dig at a local nightclub that shall remain nameless, because I have to live here.

Otherwise, Callahan stood still and stoically played his acoustic guitar on the stage of Baldwin Auditorium. Electric guitarist Matt Kinsey sat over a rack of pedals, scraping his pick and riding the whammy bar, embellishing Callahan's patient wood grain with glistering squalls.

Callahan is not really an Americana musician; he's a sphinx in homespun. But lyrical, quietly virtuosic musicianship formed a through line with the opening set by modern traditionalists Nathan Bowles, who occasionally let loose his rusted brass voice but mainly provided popping, rolling drumming, and Jake Xerxes Fussell, who led with his sincere, lonesome singing and his sweet touch on a borrowed Gibson SG.

Callahan ranged widely through his eponymous work, from "Jim Cain" to "Drover," with a couple of beloved ringers from his last Smog record, A River Ain't Too Much to Love, for good measure ("Say Valley Maker," "Rock Bottom Riser"). But all gravitated toward the epical vortex of his last two albums, epitomized by a slowly apocalyptic "America." I confess I could have stood 10 percent less extended harmonica techniques overall, which unbound the spell of his deep, even baritone and implacable guitar.

But you can't stop progress. Callahan's songs are about change, and the songs themselves are changing. Virtually no trace remains of the tenor voice from his early days; if he ventures the high notes at all now, he does so very softly. His songs are becoming less ingratiating and more profound, each at once lasting a million years and ending before you know it.

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music Briefs



Twitter Activity

Comments

I have been a fan of CB since 2005. It has been difficult to watch him make mistakes, but he …

by meowpoopy on Chris Brown Still Sucks (Music Briefs)

I love how this whole thread is people crying "he is a changed man! forgive him! everyone makes mistakes!" literally …

by Viper A on Chris Brown Still Sucks (Music Briefs)

Most Recent Comments

I have been a fan of CB since 2005. It has been difficult to watch him make mistakes, but he …

by meowpoopy on Chris Brown Still Sucks (Music Briefs)

I love how this whole thread is people crying "he is a changed man! forgive him! everyone makes mistakes!" literally …

by Viper A on Chris Brown Still Sucks (Music Briefs)

It seems the anger management classes didn't take.

https://www.wral.com/singer-chris-brown-ar…

LOL …

by Durham451 on Chris Brown Still Sucks (Music Briefs)

Y'all were saying something?

Singer Chris Brown arrested in Palm Beach County on felony assault charge

by vidvis on Chris Brown Still Sucks (Music Briefs)

What kind of stupud writers are allowed to write in a post, disgracing, if your son or daughter makes a …

by Chelsea Waugh on Chris Brown Still Sucks (Music Briefs)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation