12/12 – The Dutchess and the Duke @ The Mohawk
This here is a story of heartbreak, a story of fallen heroes. The Dutchess and the Duke made their way once again into Austin amongst strong praise for their recent release Sunset/Sunrise. Our expectations were high, and we promoted the show as best we could, hoping many would see the greatness that was D&D. Unfortunately, the night fell far short of our expectations, or mine at least. Follow the jump for full review and photos.
Openers Fergus and Geronimo were the heroes of the night. They played a frenetic set, rocking around the world somewhere between Thomas Function and The Strange Boys. These Denton lads showed a great deal of promise, and one should be on the lookout for them in 2010, as they promised to return during SXSW. I was so excited by them that I had to grab a hold of their 7 inches as I left for the evening.
Greg Ashley was quiet. You could barely hear the man play, but he did his job, filling the room with his acoustic tunes as the room desperately awaited the headliners. One doesn’t envy a man in his position, but he did a substantial job with his role, calmly, and pleasantly, playing into the late hours of the night. And then we were set.
The last time The Dutchess and the Duke made their way through town they were accompanied by no one, just the two of them. This time would be different, as the group brought along three friends to join them onstage. Strikingly, the backing band seemed to take the starring role, my first disappointment. You couldn’t see the starring duo as they set down in the front, choosing to let their music take the lead.
Opening the set, things seemed a little bit off, as the band spent far too much time with stage banter, though they managed to play their way through a large portion of the great songs featured on their first release. But, as the set wore on, more trouble came. Jesse slipped up on his solo during “The River,” one of the year’s greater songs. It was here you could see that the booze had taken over the band, and their set lost the professional touch you would expect from a headlining band. Sure, when they played their hits, the sound was great, but you could put that on The Mohawk sound guy. The rest of the evening came off as a ramshackle appearance by one of my favorite bands.
I must admit, I feel misled, crushed even. I’ve followed this band from day one, heaping praise upon them for their recorded material, which I still feel is vastly underrated. Their debut still spins in my record player from time to time, always bringing me back to the fondest of memories in 2008. But as I watched the set unfold last night, it seemed nothing more than a drunken display of shoddy musicianship, as if a group of high school hooligans had gotten together to play folk tunes. I felt disappointed as the night came to a close; I felt like my heroes had fallen from their pedestal. Perhaps I’m being too hard on them; who am I to judge their stage performance? Still, it felt like they had turned their backs on me, an adoring fan. Yet, I’d go see them again, hoping next time they redeem themselves.
Photos again provided by Mary Rehak.