After what was, by all accounts, a pretty successful year on the road with a new band (The Mermaid) following the release of his latest solo album, the redemptive, triumphant Bury Me In Philly, Dave Hause had been planning on scaling things down a little bit for 2018, both to celebrate newly married life and to work on new material. As fate would have it, things don’t always go as plan. Hause and his band played a bunch of European shows with his longtime comrade Brian Fallon earlier this year, and he and his musical – and real-life – brother have played a handful of Canadian and, now, US shows alongside the likes of the Drew Thomson Foundation and, more recently, Northcote. The latter tour rolled through Boston’s somewhat newly-opened City Winery last Tuesday, where they plied their mostly-acoustic wares in front of a house that mostly packed the upscale venue in spite of relatively little advance fanfare.
If you’re not familiar with the City Winery concept, it can be a little bit of a shock to the system if you’re used to sweaty basement clubs or even mid-sized theater shows. To start, you take your seat at one of four rows of family-style tables run perpendicular to the spacious stage, and an ample, attentive waitstaff checks in with you regularly, ready to bring you everything to a $64 bottle of 2014 Pinot Noir from New Zealand to a variety of cheeses and charcuterie board served on an individual cutting board to, chicken coq au vin, the latter of which I thought existed only in places Anthony Bourdain traveled (rest in peace). In spite of the fact that you’re largely looking over your left or right shoulder depending on which side of the table you’re seated at, sight lines are pretty solid and the sound is crystal clear. This is not the rebirth of The Rat, my friends, but that’s okay, because sometimes you’re in your late-30s and have a day job and a kid and don’t want to get your ass kicked in a pit on a Tuesday night. (Plus, there’s perhaps some level of comedic value in seeing a room full of denin-jacketed punks eating roasted Brussles Sprouts singing along to “Dirty Fucker.”)
Anyway, the show’s promoters kept things lean. Northcote (Canadian singer/songwriter Matt Good – not to be confused Canadian singer/songwriter Matthew Good) kicked things off, appearing as a duo with the acoustic-wielding Good supported by longtime collaborator Steven McGillivray on the electric. Like many in the crowd (based on my informal poll), yours truly’s introduction to Northcote in a live setting was his opening slot on Hause’s 2014 tour in support of Devour, or the subsequent dates he played with Gaslight Anthem as they wound down the Get Hurt touring cycle. Good cuts an imposing figure, with the Viking-esque long red hair and beard to match somewhat offset by his denim-and-flannel attire. Good is a criminally underrated songwriter, having earned a good many stripes from a past life playing in punk and hardcore bands before branching out on his own. He’s also owner and operator of one of the premiere voices in all the scene, able to convey both tender sentiments and heart-breaking despair in a single bound. Case in point: Northcote closed his set with an ode to recently-departed Frightened Rabbit frontman Scott Hutchison by covering the latter’s “My Backwards Walk.” The song is gut-wrenching in its original incarnation, but the gravity of the situation and the honesty in Good’s voice left barely a dry eye in the house.
The Brothers Hause followed, and dove right into a stripped-down rendition of Bury My In Philly‘s “Shaky Jesus.” We’ve obviously been pretty open about our love for Dave Hause’s post-Loved Ones career on these pages, but perhaps one of the most exciting, and unexpected, developments of the components there-in has been the emergence of his kid brother, Tim, as not only a perfect right-hand man, but a musical force in his own right. The same Tim that Dave reflected on wanting to spend more time with back on the 2011 track “Resolutions” has turned into a supremely talented guitar player (primarily adding electric textures to his brother’s acoustic rhythms), but split his time on the baby grand piano (told you it was a classy venue) and the mandolin as well, all while providing pitch perfect harmonies. Still riding the wave from their hometown Eagles’ Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots – on the eve of the now infamously canceled White House visit no less, the Hause brothers were in good, playful spirits for the duration of the set that drew not only from the elder Hause’s three solo albums, but his work with surf punk goofballs The All Brights and, of course, The Loved Ones. That good-nature was put to the test when a spontaneous, mid-set appearance by a background vacuum cleaner, ill-timed in the middle of perhaps Hause’s quietest stomach-punch of a song, “Bricks,” forced the consummate frontman to struggle to keep his composure. Once the vacuum cleaning portion of the evening’s festivities wound down, Hause also included an ode-to-a-departed-hero toward the end of his set, covering the late, great Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” though this one turned into a celebratory singalong as you might imagine.
Head below for our full photo gallery from the evening, and stay tuned for more from City Winery in the coming months, because we’re so fancy (you already know). But seriously; Cory Branan and Face To Face and Austin Lucas are playing in the near future, so we’ll be back for the Coq Au Vin soon!