July 15, Radio Radio
Nashville-based rockers Those Darlins hit Radio Radio last Friday on the heels of their second album, Screws Get Loose. The rap on these three gals and one fella is that they've already moved away from the kitschy, countrified, "we're white trash and we love it" vibe that won them their initial acclaim and first record deal back in 2008, replacing it with is a dirtied-up, '60s go-go-ish kind of sound. However, they've still maintained their bent towards funny, light-hearted lyrics about being wild, fun-loving girls, and have kept their country swagger.
The new formula works well. The crowd seemed to love it, so much so that at least one bra and a pair of jean shorts became airborne during the show. Most importantly, the band seemed to be having a genuine blast, slinking and gyrating to the music as lead singer Jessi Darlin engaged the crowd at every turn, exhorting them in her sassy Southern drawl to "take of your pants...take of your wedding rings!" while at other times mugging playfully on songs like "Mystic Eyes," and taking periodic swigs from a bottle of red wine. Bassist Kelley Darlin (the girls have all adopted the last name Darlin) also came down into the audience on more than one occasion during what was a lengthy and energetic performance. Unfortunately — for whatever reason — the sound engineering left the girl's voices at an uncomfortably high and brain-jangling register, though that didn't seem to bother the more hearty fans present at the show.
Throughout the course of their 90-minute set, the band played the hell out of almost all the songs from their new album. Funnier songs like "Be Your Bro," "Fatty Needs a Fix," and "Hives" sound like they could turn into teenaged girl anthems at any moment, while more complex and cautionary songs like "Waste Away" and "Tina Says" represent a more mature direction, and keep the album from being one-dimensional and the band members from seeming too much over-sexed, post-adolescent girls gone wild.
They threw in a few of their first album favorites such as "Whole Thing," a humorously corny song about coming home drunk and eating an entire chicken, and "Red Light Love" ("I got a red light love, hoping every day he don't green light go") — and broke out a few newer songs like "Burn Me," which had some really cool, surf-rock kind of riffs behind Jessi's staccato lyrics, and "Why Can't I Change," a slightly more introspective song that deals with the regret associated with being a wild child.
The show seemed to peak when the band played "Screws Get Loose" the title track from their new album, and carried it right into a Who cover "Shaking All Over," on which drummer Linwood Regensburg was allowed to really show his licks and lead guitarist Nikki Darlin took control of the mic. The group took that song and jammed it out for a good ten minutes, before finishing up with a sort of three song encore, not even bothering to actually leave the stage first.
Bloomington-based The Hollows opened up the night with a nice corps of loyal fans in tow. The alt-country ensemble features a violin, lap-steel, upright bass, keyboard and the soulful, if not always intelligible (again, blame it on the sound rigging?), lyrics of lead singer and guitarist Kate Long. The Hollows mostly play sweet, sway-inducing songs that — in true Americana form — hearken back to simpler times and places. However, their new song "Lifted Away," seems to take things in a somewhat more interesting direction with a bittersweet keyboard riff and a grander kind of scope that makes one think of certain sentimental Dire Straits songs.