Eleanor Friedberger| Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | hellerhound.com
Eleanor Friedberger takes charge at Milkboy on Friday
MilkBoy is the kind of venue where if you’re not careful, you might accidentally knock over an opening band’s gear. It’s the kind of place that does apparently soundchecks in real time for a live studio audience.
Eleanor Friedberger’s band grappled with that soundcheck early in their set, as she complained with good reason about the levels, and the random fog machine, while at the same time apologizing for boring the crowd with the details that in the end were never fully resolved. “It should all be show business, I know,” she said, “all just happen magically.”
In an interview that we published last week, Friedberger seemed to have demurred a little bit when asked if she was a perfectionist about her recordings, saying she isn’t the one “turning the knobs.” Still, her attention to detail early on Friday night was testament to the perhaps innate proficiency that she demonstrates consistently across all of her work. She knows what sounds right, and her brand of perfect indie-pop tends to benefit from a commensurate engineer.
At Eleanor Friedberger’s show in Philly there was a house full of hipsters – who were missing Kool Keith at Kung Fu Necktie for this – all enjoying the enjoy the 14-song set, heavy on her latest material and seldomly interrupted by stage banter.
Joey Sweeney and the Long Hair Arkestra deserve a nod for that mid-nineties’ alt-country open-road swagger and vocals and arrangements that best approximated Being There-era Wilco. “I have a feeling,” noted Sweeney, “we’re not getting the ‘opening band’ treatment. And it’s the merit of the club and the people you’re on the bill with when it doesn’t happen.”
And speaking of the merit of the people they were on the bill with, Brooklyn’s Big Thief made a decent run at stealing the night, with the urgency of tight musicianship and stage chemistry, and singer Adrianne Lenker’s dreamy electric ballads tastefully infused with just the right amount of heavy.