Live at the Showbox (DVD)
The Long Winters' brand of melodic rock—which combines literate, witty lyrics with finely wrought indie rock informed by baby-boomer canon fodder like the Beach Boys, the Zombies, and Bob Dylan (okay, and the Smiths and Elvis Costello)—will probably always have a loyal, if not massive, audience in well-educated, urban(e) areas like Seattle. At KEXP during daylight hours, Long Winters–style rock is practically the default mode (familiar-sounding songs with hooks that stick in one's head for extended periods of time). This is meat-and-potatoes rock, but it's organically grown in the 206, so, for many, it's more nourishing than imported varieties.
Live at the Showbox captures the Long Winters running through 19 songs on April 14, 2007, at that downtown venue, in 5.1 surround sound (engineered by the masterly John Goodmanson). The core foursome are bolstered by a trumpeter, trombonist, and saxophonist, and the concert is shot by Adam Pranica with an active camera, but fairly straightforwardly—an aesthetic that mirrors the music. All three LW albums get some love. The leisurely jangler "Clouds"—on which John Roderick plays an acoustic guitar—is a gorgeous standout.
The DVD's quirky bits are some of its best. Benjamin Gibbard cameos on drums for "Car Parts," loses a stick at one point, and kisses Roderick after the song is over. Later, the Long Winters break into "Sweet Emotion" (retitled "Fresh Emotion") as Roderick "raps" some lyrics from Boogie Boys' "You Ain't Fresh." At another point, Roderick announces, "This is actually a cover of a song by a new Barsuk band called Menomena" and then picks out some wonky chords on the keyboard. "We haven't worked out the bass part yet."
Later, Roderick mocks encores, and then the band do one, but without leaving the stage. They close the show by covering Chicago's magnificently uplifting "Feelin' Stronger Every Day." Sadly, the Long Winters don't achieve the liftoff Chicago did during the concluding rave-up, and Roderick's voice cracks on the word "best." Noble effort, though.
Extras include commentary from Roderick—a very funny man who should do this for every music DVD ever—and his mates Eric Corson, Jonathan Rothman, and director Pranica, and a hilarious, shit-talk-heavy documentary titled Through with Love. This is an ideal gift for the Long Winters fan in your life. Blurb!