I love when I go see one band and “discover” a new one.
The venue is a Pittsburgh legend, Mr. Smalls. A converted stone church with amazing acoustics and a fantastic layout make it one of my favorite smaller venues. I knew the main band, Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah, was going to sound great here. What I wasn’t expecting was the opening band. Out of California the band Waters came out and started the night off right!
Smooth energy with a California attitude, their version of indie rock and roll is simply awesome. Hard at times, folksy at others these guys are creating utterly unforgettable music. And they do it with an ease and passion that makes watching their show that much more satisfying.
Lead singer Van, the founder and keystone of the band, has a vocal style of his own. He’s engaging and interesting and his voice is different in the best of ways. I was drawn in immediately.
Playing along with Van are bassist Alex and guitarist Niko. Alex plays tight and strong. I found myself following his lead all through the much of show. And when I wasn’t, Niko’s (the only member who is not a California native but hails instead from Norway) guitar playing pulled me along; sharp, clear…excellent. And behind a kit that was way smaller than you’d have expected from the sounds he was making was drummer Nick. His solid beats provided a great backbone for the band. The kind of drumming you notice simply because it meshes so well with the music…you don’t hear it as a separate piece, but as a part of the whole. Perfect.
Van played bent over his guitar or rocking up on his heels as he sang every, obviously, heartfelt lyric from the opener of “If I Run” through the final song. And it was “Mickey Mantle” that they saved for last. At the start of the song, Van jumped off the stage and made his way out into the crowd. He was quickly joined by the rest of the band as they formed a circle in the crowd for a fully acoustic version of “Mickey Mantle” that blew the crowd away.
There was something so genuine about these guys and their music there was no way to not get into their show. Everyone was right with them, singing when they could and smiling as they played on. I really didn’t want their set to end, awesome to the last note.
Set List, Pittsburgh December 6, 2011
"If I Run"
"Out In the Light"
"O Holy Break of Day"
"Back to You"
"Abridge My Love"
"Ones that You Had Before"
"Take Me Out to the Coast"
"For the One"
"Mickey Mantle (acoustic)"
Waters are currently out on the road in Europe with Nada Surf and supporting their own debut album Out in the Light.