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A Young Band with an Ageless Sound

February 1st, 2012

Smith Westerns – Webster Hall – January 31, 2012


If this winter is going to be remembered as the winter that never was for New York City, we might as well celebrate the unusually mild weather with some music that reminds us of sunnier days. What better band to bring us to these warmer memories than the Smith Westerns? With a penchant for songwriting that draws heavily on the yearning for teenage love as inspiration, the Smith Westerns took the stage on Tuesday night at Webster Hall to showcase their sunny garage-pop melodies.

The Chicago-based band has had some considerable accomplishments in the two years since first playing Webster Hall, most notably with the release of the critically acclaimed sophomore album Dye It Blonde. Playing a set that featured songs mostly off this release, the band opened the show with a jubilant rendition of “All Die Young.” With frontman Cullen Omori belting out “Love is lovely when you are young,” the line felt somewhat like a mission statement for the show.

As young as this band is (the oldest member is only 21), it’s impressive to see how natural they appear and work together onstage. This was especially noticeable during “Imagine Pt. 3,” where guitarist Max Kakacek’s riffs unexpectedly burst through the melodic maelstrom of pop hooks. The crowd lost it for “Weekend,” a closing song that quite brilliantly highlights the heartbreak of unrequited love and shattered romantic expectations. So maybe young love ain’t so lovely after all. But the music it generates sure is, and you can enjoy that at any age. —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of JC McIlwaine | jcmcilwaine.com