Photo by Ken Sears
Once I checked out Will Butler + Sister Squares' self-titled album last month, I knew I wanted to see them live. Luckily for me, their tour hit up the Boston area at Deep Cuts in Medford, a newer venue I've been meaning to check out. Sometimes things just align perfectly.
Will Butler + Sister Squares occupy an interesting little niche of music. It's hipster indie rock that demands that you dance. It has this impossibly cool vibe that is going to appeal to an audience that wants to stand and stroke their chin while contemplating the music, as well as someone that wants to dance at a show. As soon as the band opened with "Arrow of Time," you knew both types of fans would be happy. Not many artists can pull off that style of music, and somehow no reaction in the audience seemed out of place. You had people barely bopping their heads next to people having a full on dance party, and neither looked out of place.
Will Butler is a captivating indie frontman. He commanded the stage in a way that demanded attention, through dance moves and just a natural charisma. But... there's just something equally endearing about Sister Squares. The three Sister Squares just have this quiet star power, meaning you had no idea who to watch at any given time. Plus, members of the band moved throughout the stage using just about every instrument and giving each other the spotlight throughout the set.
What I would recommend most about about seeing Will Butler + Sister Squares live is just how much fun it was. Most indie music tends to be pretentious and not exactly a fun time. (And this comes as a giant indie rock fan of thirty years.) Sure, there was some pretention in the performance, but in a fun way, like Jarvis Cocker. Plus, you don't usually get an artist putting themselves out there this much in smaller venues. It was a stadium sized performance for a few dozen people, and you just can't beat that.
Rachel Bobbitt opened the evening with a short set, but made more than enough of an impression in her time. Playing as a duo with a second guitarist, Bobbitt might have been the opposite of the high energy headliner. Her music was simply beautiful, and it was fairly standard singer-songwriter fare but awash with a gorgeous level of dream pop fuzz. I don't think much of the crowd knew who she was before she started playing, but she made a fan of the entire audience by the end.
Photo by Ken Sears