It seemed appropriate to watch both bands at Alex's Bar -- mostly because that place keeps it really real and devoid of hipsters When listening to really proficient alt-country-- the kind of thing you want to hear in a car while driving up North -- your best bet is to stage it in a dive bar.
At first I was worried that Olin and the Moon's harmonized set would be characterized by an excess of guitars playing open chords. There was, after all, a slide guitar, a banjo, and at least five guitars onstage.
But their set of sountrack-ready songs flowed surprisingly well -- lead singer David LaBrel sounds a bit like Soul Asylum's David Pirner, but the songs echo a little more Neil Young than I'm used to hearing on hipster stages. His brother, lead guitarist (playing a lone star Telecaster!) also sported an irony mullet and a jean jacket -- he looked like he should be in a metal band, but instead sang like David Crosby on harmony.
So yeah, it was an inevitably pleasing, low-key set. Wilco fans will love it, and I predict that they'll eventually end up on some Gray's Anatomy-type soundtrack at some point.
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Wires in the Walls mixed up its new wave inflections and gave it an alt-country frame. They also played with a euphonium -- which I couldn't really hear, to be honest. They had an awesome manager who lent me his camera when my battery died. While Wires in the Walls doesn't sound quite as polished, you can tell its members work really hard on their songs and their lyrics. I can't wait to see them after they've hit the road.
Overheard: "It's honest, I guess," from some guy who was watching two girls dance non-stop during the croonfest.