I've been feeling kinda lazy about going to shows lately, especially when my friends ditch me, but I made it to this gig--and was incredibly happy I did so.
Crooked Fingers, Great American Music Hall, April 16, 2005: I realize that it's easy to fall into the trap of being a fan of so-called indie music when "your" band gets big and you scoff at the people who got into them after you (never mind the fact that, most likely, there were people who were fans before you). God knows I feel that way all the time. And it's not as if you don't want "your" band to get big; it's just that you want them to stay at a level where you can enjoy their music without a ton of other people getting in the way. But at the same time, it's nice to see little bands get more recognition, and it's great to be a part of that movement. And that's where Crooked Fingers come in.
I really, really like them, and for me, they're easily in the second tier of current active bands. I think I've seen various incarnations of Crooked Fingers at least half a dozen times by now, from the solo setup to a more fleshed-out arrangement, and this was the biggest version of the band I had yet seen: six people in all, including a trumpeter and a flautist, who did double duty with other musical responsibilities. Also, this was the first time I've ever seen them headline, so I wasn't sure what to expect.
They opened with "Islero" from the new album, and I could hear strains of Calexico when the trumpet kicked in. Unfortunately, I didn't keep a setlist, but I recall that "Bad Man Coming" was pretty different from the very spare album version. Other highlights included old favorites such as "New Drink for the Old Drunk," "The Rotting Strip," and "Call to Love," which would be a huge summertime hit single in a perfect world. For the encore, they did that thing that I know they've done before, where they go totally unplugged and bring their instruments down to the crowd and play right there, as if we were gathering around a big campfire. I know I'm a big wuss, but it put a huge smile on my face and I loved it.
I left the concert with that old feeling of having witnessed something special. I mean, I always feel great after, say, seeing the bands I love, but I get such a thrill after going to a gig that you're not entirely convinced is going to be worth your time, then getting your socks blown off. Hooray for the little guy--and at the least, it'll keep this girl coming back for more of this band and bands like it for at least a little while to come.