Durham's shiny new Motorco Music Hall is off to a fantastic start when it comes to hosting shows with great, mostly local acts. Saturday night's Love Language show was no exception.
First up was Cashes Rivers, a folksy rock quartet out of Des Moines, Iowa. They played a short set that was a bit lackluster, though certainly not bad. Towards the end of their set, they handed out kazoos to encourage audience participation, which delighted the few people who got one.
Though Cashes Rivers wasn't exactly impressive, Twelve Thousand Armies most certainly was. The eight-piece rock band featured several prominent local musicians, including Josh Moore and Ryan Gustafson (is there a band he isn't in?). Few bands could pull off having four guitars, but Twelve Thousand Armies did so beautifully. Their great set felt entirely too short, but so it goes sometimes.
Finally, The Love Language took the stage. Above them hung a giant pink and green heart fashioned out of Christmas lights, lending the small stage some warmth. They launched into "Nocturne," kicking off a solid hour and a half of fun.
The band took a break after only a few songs to make room on the stage for frontman Stu McLamb's great-uncle Norman. He punched a few buttons and a pre-programmed track poured through the PA system. Stu tried to gracefully coax him off once the song ended, but Uncle Norman wouldn't have it. He stayed for another tune, and the band was quick to reclaim the stage once he finished, picking up again with "Blue Angel." Some of the band seemed a little unsure about their brief departure, but the crowd gleefully ate it up.
Later came "Pedals," and the band introduced Leah Gibson and Jenavieve Varga of Chapel Hill's Lost in the Trees to play cello and violin (respectively) on a few songs. They stayed for a fair chunk of the set, adding a nice layer to the music that rarely makes it from a recording to a live performance. They stayed through The Love Language's stunning cover of The Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight, Tonight," which the band had debuted on Thursday night at their homecoming show at King's.
The band closed their set with the crowd favorite "Heart to Tell" before coming back for three more encores, including a sped-up version of "This Room." The great music combined with a promising new venue made for a perfect Saturday night.
The Love Language set list
Uncle Norman's Jam #1
Uncle Norman's Jam #2
This Blood is Our Own
Tonight, Tonight (The Smashing Pumpkins cover)
Heart to Tell