Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Live Shows: Crow Follow, Tysk Tysk Task, and Sapling, Electric Haze, Worcester, MA 9/17/23

As easy as it is to mock Worcester, MA, it is a city that is rebounding. It's the home of the Worcester Red Sox, a bunch of new restaurants, cool shops, etc. The one thing I'm hoping for more of is live music. Central Massachusetts has always been cover band country, but that is slowly changing. Sunday night Electric Haze, which is a venue I've been hoping would start booking more shows, hosted the fantastic triple bill of Crow Follow, Tysk Tysk Task, and Sapling.

Electric Haze seems to host a lot of jam bands, and that was evident as the three bands Sunday night were given up to seventy-five minutes to play. These three are more used to a tight thirty minutes, so some experimentation was very welcome. Sapling opened the evening and had time to go back into their catalog a bit more than usual. While their set did include plenty of favorites from the recently released (and excellent!) amor fati, the trio broke out "Nice Guys" for the first time in a while, and even played a song off 2021's The Apocalypse Musical. Sapling seemed to have a little more fun playing than usual, and songs like "A Fox Upon the Tomb," "Mata Hari," "11:37," and "Snake Charmer" had a little extra room to breathe. The usual end of set instrument swap/noise clusterfuck was a little extra clusterfucky and turned into sheer chaos, in the most fun way.

Samantha Hartsel is the type of artist that wears her emotions on her sleeve whenever she plays, and halfway through the first song of Tysk Tysk Task's set, you just knew she was going through something and needed to get it out of her system. Between that and a shockingly tight performance by a reconfigured Tysk Tysk Task and this was one of the better sets I've seen them perform. The band just had this desire to play Sunday night, and the sound seems to be shifting from the pure fury of indie-grunge to a slightly more psychedelic version of the genre. In the year and a half that I've been going to Tysk Tysk Task shows, I can safely say that no two shows have been the same, even if the setlist has been. Sunday night's show gave them time to play a new song they've been working on along with going back to 2020's Everybody's Worried About You for one. As always, I'm looking forward to whatever they have coming next.

Crow Follow closed the show, and they continue to be a band you need to see live to truly get. Oddly, as much as I enjoy them, I wasn't sure if they'd fit in on a bill with heavier bands like Sapling and Tysk Tysk Task. Somehow I forgot that Crow Follow are a wonderfully strange band that are just a blast to see live. When you see them live, they lean into the stranger, bluesier version of X than they are on their albums. Sunday night they seemed to slow the songs down half a step and thrust themselves into their own version of psychedelia. Of course, this is an edgier version of psychedelia that isn't punk but also isn't not punk. If you've ever wished you could combine X, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The Velvet Underground, and Morphine into one band, that band would come pretty close to Crow Follow.

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