Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Bill Callahan played Baby's All Right
Bill Callahan played six shows in three nights during his residency at Baby's All Right. He wrapped things up with a great set followed by an encore that begged the question "Ok, what do you want to hear?'
Over the course of his distinguished career, Bill Callahan, formerly known as Smog, has recorded distinct songs that embrace alt-country and folk narratives anchored by his signature baritone voice. His lyrics are powerful and hard hitting, covering important moments that resonate with many listeners and burry themselves into various moments in one's life. His words are personal and relate to many without covering one specific topic. His metaphors unique and fitting to many situations. Whether he digs from the Smog catalogue or his more recent records, Callahan connects with his audience in such a deep way, it' as if you're isolated alone in the room and he is singing directly to you. Of course, the intimate setting of Baby's All Right certainly added to the profoundness of the show, but really it was his ability to translate each song perfectly in a live setting. His voice was superb and each track impeccable and almost undistinguishable from his recordings. Everything seemed so effortless and precise as if he flowed into each song with utter perfection. While there was no low point of the evening, there were certain numbers that hit with such force it was like the songs were being played for the first time or with a renewed sense of pride. He changed up a lyric in the beautiful "Small Plane" to reference how he was such a lucky man to play a small club and "Dress Sexy at My Funeral" was met with ravenous cheer. So many moments in life can be tied to a Bill Callahan song and hearing them live can be like a resurrection. A way to exercise the past, reflect, and feel liberated time and time again throughout the evening. Still, when he ended the main set with the stunning Smog classic "Cold Blooded Old Times", it was a really magical moment. He invite openers Sunwatchers to join him and provide some extra background noise that embellished the song in all the right ways and made for an unexpected yet transcendent moment. Somehow, his songs just strike such an important note within so many people that hearing them live really stirs up strong emotions and this was no exception. When he took requests for the encore, it truly felt like a special occasion where he was really present and one with the crowd. A true unification of the artist and the fans and he was even real enough to admit "I don't know that one anyone" to some of the suggestions. Closing with "Let Me See the Colts" was a stunning finish to an already momentous evening and ended things on a hallmark note, perfectly sealing the night in one fell swoop.