12/11 – Ola Podrida @ The Mohawk
It’s always an anxious evening when you are preparing to see one of your favorite bands for the first time. Will they play your favorite song? Will the show resemble the album precisely as you want it to sound? Will you walk away with the same respect as the moment you entered? Such were my thoughts as I spent Friday night preparing to see Ola Podrida at the Mohawk. The bill included Martin from Brazos and local favorites Balmorhea. Follow the jump for review and show pictures.
Unfortunately, the show was met with disappointment from the moment I arrived during Martin’s set. A show that had been billed all week as an outdoor event was forced inside due to weather, though by the time the show took off, you could easily have set up outdoors. So, instead of enjoying the evening wrapped in my jacket as David Wingo won me over, I was forced to cram into the small space that was the inside stage. Now, I’m not complaining about the Mohawk, as I understand they’re trying to protect equipment, and keep the crowds later, but something should be done for future shows of this sort. This show deserved to be outside.
Alas, I pushed and maneuvered my way into the small room, just barely, to set up for Ola Podrida. From the very first note, David Wingo and his new-formed band fulfilled all my expectations. David’s voice wavered in precisely the way it does on the album, giving him that quality of a man expressing every bit of emotion possible. For a man of his stature, he sure held the stage in quite dramatic fashion, moving in stride with the ups and downs of the work on his guitar.
The set included songs predominantly from the release of his incredible Belly of the Lion; he played the hits such as “Roomful of Sparrows,” “Your Father’s Basement” and “Donkey.” For me, one of the remarkable elements in his performance were the miniscule flourishes of musicianship that came from his backing band. Occasionally, a musician will add touches in the studio to build the sound up a bit, but apparently David is no such musician. Gentle tambourine and light percussion came with the live set, which really tied each song together tightly, just as they come across on the album. Points were won by this avid fan.
Sadly, a great deal of my night was spent trying to avoid the talking from the masses that had gathered around the bar. Now, I understand a lot of people came to see Balmorhea, and they deserve it, as they’re a solid group, with a solid album behind them. But, for many it was more of a social event, voices often drowning out Wingo’s music during soft moments. I don’t get it, and for me, a person who grew up in the Austin music scene, it was a bit appalling, and more so, disrespectful to all the bands. A lot of people came to watch the music, and if you’re at a show because you heard it would be cool, I get it, but if you want to talk then go outside; you could, dare I say, actually listen to the music too. A lot of us came for the music, not to be social, so shut it!
Still, Ola Podrida closed off their night with a powerful version of “Cindy.” Sure, I wanted “Jordanna” last, but the way they pulled off “Cindy” showed me that I will have higher expectations for the group the next time around. Surely, the rest of the world, including Europe on the upcoming tour, should be prepared, as Ola Podrida deserve all the praise they’ve garnered.
Photos provided by the lovely Mary Rehak.