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This Guitar-Playing Couple Is Worthy of Headlining

August 17th, 2009

Drug Rug – Mercury Lounge – August 14, 2009

Drug Rug - Mercury Lounge - August 14, 2009

In baseball it’s called pitching backward: To keep the hitter off balance, the pitcher starts with a slow pitch, like a curveball, instead of a fastball. On Friday night the Boston band Drug Rug did just that at Mercury Lounge when they started with the dreamy title track off their new album, Paint the Fence Invisible. The boyfriend-girlfriend pairing of Tommy Allen and Sarah Cronin showcased most of that sparkling new album, bringing out rockers like “Hannah Please” and spacey slow jams like “Don’t Be Frightened by the Devil.” And just when those in the crowd thought they knew what was coming, Allen or Cronin would throw a different pitch. Moving through songs fast and slow and new and old, they put on a headline-worthy performance.

Allen and Cronin brought different sides to the show, making for a wonderful split. He stayed cool, smoothly harmonizing and subtly laying down great, classic-sounding rhythm guitar. While, at center stage, she sweetly howled through each track, ripping off one bluesy guitar solo after another. Carter Tanton and Julian Cassanetti, decked out in black shades reminiscent of the Blues Brothers (as some in the crowd rowdily noted), backed the couple. This same duo performed with Drug Rug at Mercury Lounge last winter, and that experience showed. Allen and Cronin don’t always play live with the same musicians and establishing some consistency with that helped them put on one of their best New York City shows yet. “It’s like playing with family,” Allen said afterward. The show closed with a fastball“For the Rest of Your Life,” off Drug Rug’s self-titled debutand then one last curve as Cronin bashed the drums for “Day I Die.” Good game. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com