Elvis Perkins in New York City

December 2nd, 2009

Last time Elvis Perkins in Dearland was in town, back in March, the show somehow ended literally underground in the JMZ subway station across the street from Bowery Ballroom. A small group of musicians—members of Dearland and opener Himalayas (who also open Saturday’s show)—played unplugged with an equally small crowd clapping, dancing and singing along as the late-night MTA platform power washers gawked. It was a show that didn’t want to end.

Since then, I’ve seen Perkins and Co. play a surprising, pitch-perfect cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway” in the early-afternoon Tennessee sun at Bonnaroo and invite the 20-plus choir of the Shape Note Singers to join them onstage in a powerful moment at the Newport Folk Festival in August. Which is all a way of saying that it might be hard to predict what you’ll see when the band returns this weekend for gigs at Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg.

I can predict music that transcends Perkins’ unique backstory, plenty of material off of the terrific Elvis Perkins in Dearland, and the just-as-strong follow-up Doomsday EP, and, if we’re lucky, another chills-inducing version of one of the best songs ever written about 9/11, “While You Were Sleeping.” Check out Elvis Perkins in Dearland, above, playing “Shampoo” for Rolling Stone. And then see them live on Saturday at Music Hall of Williamsburg. (Friday’s show is sold out.) —A. Stein