Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Both bring power pop doom folk, stand-up to Carrboro

Power pop duo The Both, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo, rolled into Carrboro last night for what the pair said will be their last show together for a while as they are about to return to work on their solo careers.

The pair stated upfront that they would be playing all of the songs from their self-titled debut and they mostly delivered on that promise, playing the entire album minus one song, killing it as a power trio backed by drummer Matt Mayhall. While Leo is known for his own brand of power pop, it was refreshing to see/hear Mann's voice and melodies lifted by Leo's crunchy, enthusiastic sense of punk rock.

That sense of pop shines on songs like "Volunteers of America," "Milwaukee" and "Bedtime Stories" as well as a new, unreleased song by the duo, "Gideon." Mann's stunning, trademark, sullen pop, which Leo dubbed "doom folk" during the set, still comes through on songs like "No Sir" and "Hummingbird."

With only a single album to pull from, a few of Mann and Leo's solo songs were included in the set including Mann's Oscar-nominated song "Save Me" as well as "Goodbye Caroline" and Leo's "Lonsdale Avenue" and "Bottled in Cork."

The big surprise of the evening was the hilarious comedic banter between Mann and Leo. They joked with each other about song titles, Mann called Leo a fan of all things "Hobbity," there was a back and forth about Leo sending a roadie to get him wine, and many, many other things. Every song was preceded by a vigorous back and forth between the two and it actually never got old.

The night ended with the band playing Mann's 1985 hit "Voices Carry" which sounded as catchy and fresh as ever, especially with the tasteful guitar antics of Leo driving the song. It was a fitting end to the show and the tour in support of their first album. Hopefully they'll make another album and bring their unique sound back once they finish their new solo efforts.

Spider Bags started the show and the set was rough from start to finish. The band's set was plagued by technical problems and instead of stopping and taking the time to address the issues properly, the band mostly played through, them leaving a very harsh sounding set for the crowd unprepared for the band's punk rock antics. A number of folks in the crowd had their fingers in their ears during the set and I can't say that I blame them. The highs and hi-mid frequencies were particularly harsh throughout the set and made it difficult to enjoy. That said, the band's energy was admirable and the songs catchy, it just wasn't their night to shine.

The Both set list
The Gambler
Volunteers of America
No Sir
The Inevitable Shove
Pay For It
You Can't Help Me Now
Save Me
Lonsdale Avenue
Bedtime Stories
The Prisoner
Goodbye Caroline
Bottled in Cork
Voices Carry

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