In March 2002 I saw Elbow open for South at Bowery Ballroom… the first time I’d seen either band live. All I remember about that show is it was Guy Garvey’s birthday and that
I thought South suffered a bit from having to follow Elbow. I’ve seen both bands since, each has gotten better, but that certainly crossed my mind as I hopped into a cab right after Elbow’s Webster Hall show Saturday and raced across the Manhattan Bridge to catch South at Union Hall.
Who can say why bands become more or less popular? South have genuinely gotten better over the years, I think, with 2003’s With the Tides being the album that shoulda been their Big Breakthrough, and 2006’s Adventures in the Underground Journey to the Stars their creative peak. South’s fourth album, You Are Here, is a little to new to rank it, but I do like it and certainly think it’s better than today’s middling Pitchfork review.
It is a little weird hearing some of their sweeping epics in such a small venue, but I guess I should view it as a treat. The songs from Journey to the Stars worked best (the New Order-y "Shallow" and fused "You Are One") in this environment, but it was a good, not great, show overall. But they are certainly one of this decade’s most underrated bands and if they’re playing near you, they’re worth a look:
Apr 30 North star bar Philadelphia PA
May 1 Great Scott Boston MA, Massachusetts
May 3 Rock & Roll Hotel Washington DC, Washington DC
May 5 Abbey Pub Chicago IL, Illinois
May 6 Turf Club St Paul MN
May 8 Marquis Theatre Denver CO
May 9 Mesa Theater & Club Grand Junction, Colorado
May 11 Doug Fir Lounge Portland OR
May 12 Nectar Lounge Seattle WA
May 14 The Independent San Francisco CA
May 15 The Echo Los Angeles CA
May 16 Brick by brick San Diego
I spied Matt from the Music Slut from across the room, singing along to every song. His report is a little more detailed than mine.