Sunday night at The Whistler, local alt-country act Falldown dared to ask the question: Is it possible to rock out on a Sunday night? The answer? A resounding yes...
Offering live music without a cover seven nights a week, The Whistler provides a great way to see and hear music even on a Sunday night in the dead of winter. Despite some of the coldest weather we've had this year, the Logan Square club was packed Sunday and music lovers were rewarded for braving the elements. Often devoted to jazz showcases, the venue's sound system needs to be great and the audio quality was surprisingly strong this weekend for such a small venue.
Country music is one of the more, if not the most, sincere genres of music around. That's not to say this is true of most of the country music played on the radio today but at its core it's music with an edge and an unflinching honesty. It's a quality that alt-country brings back to the forefront and a sentiment that Falldown delivers well.
Billed as alt-country, Falldown actually veers more toward old-school, authentic country at times onstage (due largely in part to the pedal steel playing of Patrick Lyons and fiddle of Jared Rabin), something most clear at The Whistler during a cover of Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man." A rocking cover of Neil Young's "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere" was thrown in for good measure as well with Falldown (performing Sunday as a quintet) doing unquestionable justice to the 1969 Crazy Horse classic.
Encompassing members or former members of a variety of different local projects (everything from The Redwalls to Bumpus is represented), Falldown is dangerous in the live setting with several members of the band capable of handling a lead vocal (Liza Day, Rabin and Lyons all sang lead Sunday night) as well as a variety of instruments.
Earlier Sunday, the band received a spin from Richard Milne on WXRT's "Local Anesthetic" program. From their debut, self-titled EP, "Slay Me" is a piece of jangly, catchy, country-infused pop that leaves you wanting more. From the same EP, "Sarah Says" slows things down and demonstrates range. The pedal steel can be overpowering in the live setting but Sunday night, Lyons used it to great advantage on the ballad, its subtle flourishes ornamenting the song nicely.
"The Drain" put slide guitar up front, showing the band is influenced by more than just country music, perhaps even a bit of Chicago blues as well.
But my personal favorite during Sunday's set was "Couch Sleep." "This is a song about sleeping on the couch" said Rabin. You don't say? The track most closely resembles alt-country, reminiscent of something that would've been right at home on Whiskeytown's 1997 release Strangers Almanac and Jordan Kozer is impressive to behold on drums during it. Formerly of The Redwalls, his propulsive fills drive the song's beat, especially live, and his jazz interests were apparent throughout his playing Sunday night.