After eating a good amount of crow writing my review of Jon Drake & The Shakes newest release, Dear Ulysses, I was really looking forward to this show. The stage at Double Door isn’t the biggest in the city, but it’s got the depth to handle this octet. The sound system had a slight issue with the vocals during the opening few moments of the show, but by the end of the first song it was sounding great.
The first thing I noticed as the band was finishing their setup was that Daniel Villarreal-Carrillo wasn’t up there. Dan Dorf, who plays drums on the majority of Dear Ulysses, was behind the set-just in from Cincinatti to play the show. He’s a good drummer. More technical than Villarreal-Carrillo, but not nearly as fun to watch. Later in the set the drummers switched off, and even later they were both on stage to close it out.
I enjoyed this show a lot more than my previous experiences at Shakes shows. I don’t know if it was a better crowd or just the relentless positive energy flowing from the stage, but it was a good time. They burned through most of the songs off Ulysses and played some deep cuts to reward their most loyal fans. My favorites got played, so I was happy.
The guitar solo by Joe Meitus on “Mary” sounded particularly great. Unfortunately, due to a misspelling, I can’t say he has the Midas touch (which will bring great joy to Kari, who almost vomited out of disgust when I made the joke to her later in the evening). The pacing of that song also means some restraint from the bassist and drummer is needed, and they pulled it off with grace.
The opening song of the set, “Margie,” is the albums closer. I think every time I’ve seen the band play they have opened this way. It’s funny that it always ends with Drake kneeling in front of the microphone drinking a beer. Honestly, I don’t know how they can keep up the energy for a full set. Maybe the momentum they build up keeps them going. Look at how quickly Drew Westergreen’s bow is going during this video of “Charlie.” If I were playing I’d need a seat for myself and a second for my hands.
By the end of the night Drake, and everyone else on stage, was dripping with sweat. Still, the smiles never left their faces. Dear Ulysses is their baby, and they were more than happy to celebrate and share it with anyone who would listen. Every time there was a break in music someone up there was thanking the audience or someone in particular for all their support. And everyone in attendance was happy to do their part in supporting them over the past few years in exchange for good music and cathartic live experiences.
Dear Ulysses is still a couple weeks out from its official release, but you can hear a few songs on the bands website.