Better Than: The Melvins, because Tuesday is a bad night to be wrong, and I’m feeling lucky.
Download: Bill Childish and Holly Golightly, “In Blood,” for an idea of who you’re dealing with.
It’s a travesty that Holly Golightly hasn’t yet taken over the stateside airwaves, but it’s not surprising. Her music, whether solo, with Billy Childish or with Texan one-man-band Lawyer Dave as Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs, is understated. It lacks the gripping, percussive bombast of the White Stripes and other garage revivalists, while remaining entirely accessible to the right set of ears.
Golightly and Lawyer Dave rolled into Rudz with an utter lack of fanfare or even publicity. I found out about the show through Pollstar and saw no advertisements beyond the calendar on Rudyard’s webpage. The crowd showed regardless – a strong 60-70 for an 11 p.m. Tuesday show isn’t bad. It’s even better when the crowd actually wants to be there, and this one did.
Lawyer Dave came out and played four solo songs, then said he was taking a smoke break and would return with Holly. Ten minutes later, the pair strolled out, plugged in and took off. They opened with “Crow Jane” and settled into a comfortable groove with “Eye For An Empty Heart,” a piece from Golightly’s pre-Brokeoffs days.
She and Lawyer Dave bantered between every song, which typically gets tedious but here lent a Storytellers sort of vibe to the show, while simultaneously giving you the impression that the two folks on stage knew exactly what they were doing and weren’t concerned if anyone else did. Before starting “Devil Do,” Holly mentioned it was a Goth sort of song: “All I know is they like drinking blood and they’re all vegetarian.” The tempo got a shot in the ass at this point, and the ensuing rendition of “You Can’t Buy a Gun” was both playful and stirring.
“This is a song about Jagermeister. It’s dedicated to anyone who’s had to hold it in one’s hair,” Golightly said when introducing world-class drunkard ballad “Medicine Water.” (“I met a girl drinkin’ medicine water. She took my hand and showed me the way. I drank all my fill of that medicine water, and I can’t remember her name.”) Live, it takes on a quality approaching a besotted Carter Family tune and showcased Golightly and Dave’s palpable vocal chemistry.
“We just played Dallas,” Golightly informed the crowd. “And I don’t know whether people in Dallas have any interest in live music, but in our experience, they don’t.”
“The problem with people in Dallas,” added Dave, “is that they do too much coke. Which is fine – if you’re good at it.”
The duo then dove headfirst into their “Halloween song,” the lilting “Just Around the Bend.” A few songs later, “Won’t Go Out”– another pre-Brokeoffs tune – provided the evening’s best example of Holly’s brilliant, effortless delivery. She seems almost bored only because she makes it look easy.
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The set continued to crescendo through “Jesus Don’t Love Me,” the sublime “Whoopie Ti Yi Yo,” and rollicking closer “I Want to Hug You, Kiss You, Squeeze You (‘Til My Arms Fall Off).” Lawyer Dave took over Holly’s axe for encore, “So Long” – a predictable choice, but who’s complaining?
Personal Bias: Lawyer Dave is a singular force of loose (though dependable) percussion and tasty guitar work. Plus he’s called “Lawyer Dave.” Holly’s voice is one of my favorites in the history of recorded sound, plus she writes interesting songs and knows how to rock the hell out of a pair of boots. What do you want from me?
Random Detail: Holly and Dave didn’t even leave the stage between last song and encore. Extrapolate, and you’ll understand the zen of Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs.
By the Way: You can buy a gun when you’re crying, but that guy is hard to track down, and his van smells like sweaty rats and boiling pseudoephedrine. – Chris Henderson