I was in central Kentucky on personal business again last weekend, and a friend reminded me that The Weeks would be playing club shows in Lexington and Louisville while I was there. No brainer.
I saw The Weeks at three festivals in 2014, but not at all since then — the Mississippi band now based in Nashville had taken a break from touring for most of 2015 to develop new material. So I jumped at the chance to catch them at Cosmic Charlie’s near the UK campus. It was my first time at the dive-y but still sort-of-collegiate 18+ 300-capacity club that, at least on the night I was there, has good sound and nicely varied lighting. A similar venue in Savannah would have a lot more tattoos and piercings, a lot more older patrons (i.e., I felt kind of ancient), and no doubt much worse lighting on the bands (because, Savannah). I’d go back to Cosmic Charlie’s in a heartbeat.
The Weeks started their killer 75-minute set (can’t all club headliners start doing sets that long?) with “The House I Grew Up In”, which pretty much had the crowd hooked from the start. If some of the photos after the jump feel a little same-y, it’s because I couldn’t really risk giving up my spot so close to the stage.
The Weeks played eight new songs off their upcoming record — those were sprinkled into the set with tracks that lots of us in the audience already knew the lyrics to, including “Slave to the South”, “Stigmata”, and more. “Buttons” was the final song of the initial set, with the brilliant, almost-bluesy “Brother in the Night” capping the encore.
It’s hard to get a full sense of the new songs just from hearing them in a rollicking club set, but a couple of tracks are out there already, at least in acoustic versions. Both “Grind Your Teeth” and “Quicksand” were on the Cosmic Charlie’s setlist — here they are live in studio at Nashville’s Lightning 100 in December:
The Weeks seemed super comfortable with the new material — obviously they’ve worked hard on it — and songs like the two above work perfectly with lead singer’s Cyle Barnes deep-voiced, passionate delivery. The crowd in Lexington was quick to find and sing the choruses even of the new work, like “He lived his life like a bottle rocket” from another new song that I assume will be called “Bottle Rocket” (although the alternate refrain of “He lived his life like a levee breaking” had even broader resonance).
The four core members — Cyle Barnes (vocals), Cain Barnes (drums), Samuel Williams (guitar and vox), and Damien Bone (bass) — have been playing together since 2006 when they were teenagers, and they were joined in Lexington by a fifth musician (whose name I don’t know) on guitar, vocals, and a little keys.
I love The Weeks’ take on alt-Southern rock — especially the variations in tempo, the occasionally soaring vocals, and the artistic instincts that allow each song take on its own personality. The live shows are particularly thrilling because of the band’s chaotic energy, which makes shooting photos challenging but fun too. Fortunately, I had my pocket-sized Fuji x100t with me, which can find a shot in almost any conditions.
Buffalo Rodeo from Bowling Green, Ky. (home to Cage the Elephant and also the town where I was born) opened the show with psych rock that started out pretty mellow but became more intense as the set progressed. The talented band has just launched a PledgeMusic campaign to buy a new touring van. I’m excited to hear more of their music.
More photos of both bands after the jump. (And my apologies to Cain Barnes — and to all the other drummers that can’t get good shots of.)