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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fences, Rin Tin Tiger, Passenger & Pilot Get Cozy at Rickshaw Stop

Posted By on Thu, Apr 7, 2011 at 7:52 AM

  • Romana Machado
  • Fences
Fences, Rin Tin Tiger, Passenger and Pilot
April 6, 2011
@Rickshaw Stop

Better than: Group therapy

Despite the chilly temperatures and threatened rainstorm, there were about fifty people clustered stageside for the opening act at the Rickshaw Stop last night. Or at least two less than there might have been had not a pair of young ladies brushed past us on the way in, the laggard of the two chirping "Wait, I gotta send a Mission Abort text!" Though an all-ages show, the audience gathered for the opening act was sparse and somewhat grizzled, including a few ubiquitous scene-rats one encounters every time an amp is rolled out south of Sausalito. The chummy feeling imparted by weather and company set the mood for proceedings to come at least as well as the Akron/Family and Neil Young songs rolling off the P.A.

Passenger & Pilot - ROMANA MACHADO
  • Romana Machado
  • Passenger & Pilot

Passenger & Pilot clambered onstage lugging violin, cello, and an assortment of acoustic guitars. The musicians bade us closer to the stage and all dutifully crowded forward as they took us through a too-brief arrangement of delicate melody and profound sentiment. If you have to hang generic tags on the music of co-songwriters Jonathan Hirsh and China Langford, then "urban folk" nails it, as do "existential sea shanties," and "21st century blues." Langford has the kind of spacious and soulful voice you hear on old Stax-Volt 45s that provides its own kind of banked fire. The crowd huddled around it and we were thanked for our attention.

  • Romana Machado
  • Rin Tin Tiger

The wait was short for Rin Tin Tiger, which loosed a few of its uptempo Dylanesque tunes highlighted by a cover of Bob's therapeutic "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right." The brothers Sullivan are antic fellows who bicker after the manner of siblings and RTT is still getting on its legs as rockist successor to the boys' old folkie act, Westwood & Willow. These guys bear watching.

Christopher Mansfield of Fences - ROMANA MACHADO
  • Romana Machado
  • Christopher Mansfield of Fences
Things grew a bit desultory after that, and Fences went on to a slightly diminished house at about eleven. There's been a lot of electronic ink loosed lately about singer-songwriter Christopher Mansfield's bad-boy persona, but on his self-confessed 301st day without a drink, the artist seemed engagingly shy and self-deprecating. Heavily inked and hypersensitized, Mansfield mumbled something about "Not trying to play up the whole 'sincere nervous guy' thing" after an extended period of feeding the crowd by hand. This was less winsome shuck than what appeared to be honest astonishment at all the love his gnarled, life-weary ballads and offhand candor were getting. "Girls with Accents" was prefaced by Mansfield's astonishment that a song festooned with so many "fucks" managed to get radio airplay. The singer told the story of having a beautiful girl on YouTube cover one of his new songs and mistakenly title it "Encore" before mumbling something about maybe letting her name it. One hopes they're even now exchanging digits and clearing the awkward first stage of what could be a beautiful relationship.

Overheard: Chris Mansfield: "This is the most I've ever talked at a show, so consider yourself lucky."

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