Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – Bowery Ballroom – May 14, 2009May 15th, 2009
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down brought an endearing indie-rock energy to The Bowery Ballroom last night. Built on infectious handclaps, two-step beats and, at times, bluegrass-like grooves, their music was its own spirited variety of folk rock. It’s a natural sound for this Southern-influenced three-piece, originally from Virginia.
Some bands end a show by bringing the opening acts back out for a big finish, but Thao started the night this way, which was typical of the onstage party that was to come. From the very first note, Thao got down with opening acts Sister Suvi and Samantha Crain, who accompanied the band on vocals and ukulele. Thao bounced around the stage with a hollow-body electric guitar that sounded like it was being played through a beaten-up, old AM radio. She hugged the giant guitar, bent over bouncing, hair flailing, eyes closed, belting out “Bag of Hammers,” which came early in the set to the approval of the audience. She’s the center of the group’s sound with her powerful, expressive voice and poetic lyrics. But it’s not all about her. She’s one of those people who makes sure to get everyone involved—someone who will take your hand and drag you from the corner of the room to make sure you join in. It’s important everyone has a good time.
For the actual encore, every last person from the opening bands returned—as if they’d ever really left—complete with pirate hats and ski caps with built-in Rasta dreads. Thao seemed characteristically at home leading this crew and the Bowery audience in singing along, hands over their heads, clapping their way to the end of the night. —Jason Dean