It’s the always eerie night before Thanksgiving and I’m already seeing double. This time we cannot blame the Wild Turkey. San Francisco’s Ian Fays include twins Lizz and Sara, older sister Lena (on triangle, tambourine and more!), Lizz’s husband on drums plus “a friend” on bass. It is, as they announce, “a family affair”. Lizz and Sara don’t appear to be identical twins, but in their matching outfits it’s still quite a spectacle. There is something incredibly powerful about sibling bands. From the Jackson 5 to the Strange Boys, The Brothers Johnson to the Sadies and Meat Puppets!!, you can imagine these kids growing up together listening to music, playing music and understanding the mission completely.
Besides DNA, The Ian Fays share an enthusiastic charm that is infectious. Lizz’s guitar and Sara’s tinkly keyboards are well balanced against the soft-warm vocals and excellent drumming. Lizz’s hubby played standing with only a floor tom, snare and cymbals producing a fabulous Moe Tucker style heartbeat backbone. There are no upcoming shows listed but stay tuned. Meanwhile, check out their latest recording Jenson’s Camera, or the 2010 Dylan’s Lost Days. Better yet, begin at the beginning with 2006’s casio heavy The Damon Lessons.
Headlining the evening were North Carolina’s Crooked Fingers. Eric Bachmann started the band when his amazing Archers of Loaf imploded in 1998. They played a lot of the new release, Breaks in the Armor, but also included a bunch of older stuff that got the devotees all perked up. The show ended with a powerful solo version of Chumming the Oceans from the Archer’s 1996 classic All the Nation’s Airports.
Holding the middle slot was Philly’s Strand of Oaks. Chief Oak Strand, Timothy Showalter, writes great songs and comes off like Jack Black in the best way. Despite 3 band members there was the unfortunate addition of some prerecorded drum, synthesizer and bass that didn’t really compliment. The best stuff was Tim all alone. He appropriately describes his music as sad and herbally influenced. 2010’s Pope Killdragon includes some serious tear jerkers that cover territory from Carbondale, Illinois to John Belushi and Gilda Radner.