"We’ve never played a record-store-slash-bar before. This could make for dangerous shopping." — Grant Olsen, Arthur & Yu.
When the conditions are right, the cafe at Sound Fix, with its tin ceilings and inviting atmosphere, is one of the best places to see a show in the whole city. Certainly Arthur & Yu, who are in the same sonic ballpark as Luna or Acetone (by way of Nancy & Lee and the Everly Brothers), benefited from the room, making for one of my favorite shows of the year so far. The Seattle duo (Olsen and former Rogue Wave-r Sonya Wescott), here fleshed-out to a quintet, were in the middle of a three day stop in New York as one tour ended (Iron & Wine) and another was about to begin (Great Lake Swimmers) and were nice enough to play this free show.
As I said, their sound — twangy, kinda druggy, old school harmonies — is perfect for Sound Fix’s back room which was full but not so packed as to warrant the removal of the tables. You could sit back, drink your tea (or a PBR) and mellow out to the warm vibes and melodies, man. We got a full, ten-song set: eight from their excellent, underheard debut, In Camera, and two new ones, "Ball Vs. Feather" and "Three Horses" (which is not a cover of the Joan Baez song from what I can tell. Not that you thought it was.).
In Wescott’s own words, "[Arthur & Yu] might be the shyest band in the business" but she kept things interesting with a wide variety of instrumentation — melodica, electronic autoharp, and those whistling tubes you swing over your head all made appearances. I would even go as far to say that I liked the live versions better than the album (which was recorded as a demo), all the songs got fleshed out slightly, but not so much that it detracts from the magic in them originally.
Setlist: Flashing the Lobby Lights | Afterglow | Come to View (Song for Neil Young) | Half Years | Three Horses | There are Too Many Birds | Ball Vs. Feather | 1000 Words | Lion’s Mouth | Absurd Heroes Manfestos
MP3: Arthur & Yu – There Are Too Many Birds
(Buy it from Soundfix, won’t ya?)
Loaser was also there. And here’s video of new song "Three Horses":