Sometimes you need to be in a nearly empty room to appreciate the full impact of live music. Though it’s obviously not ideal for the bands on stage, the lack of distraction enables a level of focus that allows the power of the songs to wash over you. Less than 20 people were on hand at Deluxe Tuesday night for Futurebirds and Henry Clay People. But those in attendance caught a vibrant, no-holds, fuck ‘em all ROCK show that was a reminder of how great passionate music can be for your soul.
The Henry Clay People have been knocking out short bursts of mayhem for about six years now. I last witnessed their go-for-broke style as openers for the Drive-By Truckers a few years back. Not much has changed since, which was refreshing. HCP’s punk energy and manic nuggets of 180-second pop were precision shots of audio endorphins. Focusing on newest album Twenty-Five for the Rest of Our Lives, the band tore through a 45-minute set. Standouts included EveryBandWeEverLoved and Friends are Forever, along with For Cheap or for Free’s Two By Two. Lead singer Joey Siara worked the mike like an even more intense Craig Finn, at one point even hopping down off the stage to exchange high-fives with the audience. They were a blast.
Futurebirds, another DBTs disciple, were next and equally impressive. With four guitars, including a pedal steel, the band delivered an additional layer of sound in their southern rock vibe. Futurebirds exchanged HCP’s punk attitude with more of a focus on melody and mood, employing some great vocal harmonies and early My Morning Jacket-like psych rock touches. Tracks like Johnny Utah — Point Break is a B-movie classic — and Ski Chalet from 2010 release Hampton’s Lullaby were swirling, hooky amalgams of foreboding menace and beauty. I hadn’t listened to the band much prior to the show, but I suspect spending some time with the long-player will be quite rewarding.
Indy was host to several shows Tuesday night, so it’s unfortunate this one didn’t find a full audience. That said, those who were there were treated to something special.