Langhorne Slim & the Law/Jonny Fritz – The Bowery Ballroom – September 24, 2013
There was enthusiasm to spare last night at The Bowery Ballroom. Opener Jonny Fritz turned the club into a honky-tonk, telling country tales of heartache and everyman woe. Accompanied by his acoustic guitar and some fine fiddle playing, Fritz got the crowd whooping along to songs mostly from his Dad Country release. Tunes like “Fever Dreams” and “Trash Day” found a mix of melancholy humor and existential dread in just plain old life, and Fritz’s honest voice kept it simple and sweet.
Headliner Langhorne Slim took the stage to some walking-out grooves from his band the Law and wasted no time riling up the crowd with “Wild Soul” off last year’s The Way We Move. Those in the sold-out audience made their presence known from note one, singing along to their heart’s content. The mood was frenetic and fun, the energy in the room matching the crazed, homespun feel of the tie-dyed backdrop at the back of the stage. Slim worked the room with charm and ebullience, running commentary seeping into his songs, full-room clap-alongs and sing-alongs induced with a mere gesture.
The sound was a bluesy folk with punk energy: in lieu of thrashing electric guitar, Slim’s onslaught was pure personality. Before “Salvation,” he told the crowd that they were “not here to be shy,” but it felt redundant for the bouncing masses that found whatever room they could to dance—not just once were my toes stomped on by a giddy fan who couldn’t contain himself. Even the quiet, more soulful moments, like “Song for Sid” and “I Love You, But Goodbye,” seemed to eventually bubble and boil over with slamming banjo (slamjo?) or ramshackle drumming. The closing moments of the set found Slim singing from the shoulders of someone in the audience, hovering slightly above but very much inside and a part of the people he’d been singing along with all night. —A. Stein