Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Live Shows: David Wax Museum, Prescott Park Arts Festival, Portsmouth, NH 9/5/15

Photo by Ken Sears
David Wax Museum are one of my current favorite live bands, and seeing as I hadn't seen them play live for over a year, I had to head up to Portsmouth to check them out. The combination of a Saturday night show, perfect weather for an outdoor show, and the absurdly low $8 suggested donation ticket price were too much of a draw to miss it.

Prescott Park Arts Festival is one of the more unique venues to see a show. They get absolute top level acts (Steve Earle, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, and Josh Ritter have all played this year), but they also put on family friendly plays on the same stage. This year was Peter Pan, and the stage was still decorated for the play. The park is right on the Piscataqua River, which creates a beautiful backdrop, especially as the sun slowly sets during the show.

Suz and David came out and started off the show as a duo with a completely retooled version of "Lavender Street" that was heavy on the low end and almost sounded like a ska song. After that, they were joined by the rest of the band (a bassist and drummer who's names I didn't catch (Sorry...)), and started the set in earnest. Shows at Prescott Park tend to a crowd that is mostly older and families, so it always starts with just about the entire crowd chilling on blankets and in chairs. David and Suz encouraged the crowd to dance or at least stand, and slowly they did, especially the kids in the crowd. "Unfruitful" finally started getting the crowd up and moving, which it always seems to. I know I always bring up this song, but it's pretty much the perfect song and it is always a highlight of every show I've ever seen of theirs. They closed their first set with "Yes, Maria, Yes," bringing in a huge singalong for the crowd, and having some of the kids in the audience onto the Peter Pan backdrop to dance and sing.

Photo by Ken Sears
This might be the downfall of shows at Prescott Park. They break shows into a first set and a second set with a 20 or so minute intermission in between. It seemed like once David Wax Museum had finally gotten the crowd into the show and participating, they had to break for a bit. Once they came back out for their second set, the crowd had mostly settled back into their blankets and chairs with ice cream for the night. It did get better and the crowd more energetic as the set went on, but it was weird watching a band as experienced as David Wax Museum have to start over some scratch with the same crowd. They closed their set with the brand new "Guesthouse," which is even better live than the recorded version. After ending their second set, David and Suz charged back out for a duo version of "When You Are Still" from the edge of the stage. It was a virtually perfect way to end a great night of almost free music.

David Wax Museum are about to release their fifth studio album, Guesthouse, October 16. Check out their website for details, and make sure to check out their tour page for when their extensive tour comes out your way. You'll never regret going to one of their shows.

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