High Noon Saloon
Slothrust came into Madison on the tail end of their “The Parallel Timeline Tour”. They have been packing out rooms in support of 2 albums, 2021s “Parallel Timeline” and 2022s “Parallel Timeline(Origins)”. The difference between the two albums is worth a look at if you are a fan. The latter, Origins, is a deluxe version with some re-recordings and original demos. With 6 songs from “Parallel Timeline” on the setlist, you get a heavy dose of the newer more experimental, and mature songwriting. With that said I first found their music at the library. I enjoyed listening to it so much that I went out and bought their catalog of music so I have been waiting patiently since the beginning of the pandemic to see them perform live. It was worth the wait.
The High Noon Saloon is a fantastic location for this Boston, Massachusetts trio. The room has rustic visuals with an all-wood interior and horseshoes hanging all over. There are no frills to the space beside that. It is a large room with a large bar off to the left and a two-foot-high stage straight ahead. The room is fairly sizable though and is packed with patrons. It was so full it was very hard to move around. Slothrust’s stage setup is very neat. Across the stage are little cloud puffs including two toms on the kits. On top of a monitor is a large stuffed moth. Also on the right side of the stage, two tall flowers stand. The lone mic stand is wrapped with bunches of grapevines that are lit up. Behind the drum kit, a huge rainbow with “Slothrust” in the middle was being projected onto the back wall. These details fit the mood of the setlist.
A few songs from the setlist stood out. A clear fan favorite “Double Down” really encapsulated Leah Wellbaum’s magnificent guitar playing. Her style reminds me of the 90s alternative with a 70s eclectic mix. The song’s rapid upbeat nature was full of smooth transitions from clean to distorted. The lyrical cadence became stuck in your head. It was extremely creative. From where I stood the song’s repetitive nature along with that cadence made it easy to sing. It left no doubt about the participation of the audience by singing or whistling the chorus which at times rang out louder than the band. Wellbaum’s stage presence was at the forefront of this tune. Her brief solo left her contorting her body by leaning back and bending all over. Practically a yoga session. This was an often reoccurring action for her whether behind the mic stand or out in the middle of the stage. To match her enthusiasm, bassist Brooks Allison was a head-banging machine. His bleach blonde hair swung wildly not only for this song but the entire night.
A bit surprising to me “A Giant Swallow” delivered the same vivid imagery and the lyrical content that was depicted on the album. Wellbaum once again composed an impassioned performance. The heartfelt delivery of the lyric “I circle the moment” draws you in and tugs at your heartstrings. The sentimental responsiveness of her vocal exertions was masterful. It felt like an emotional assault and a far cry from some of the bland content of the typical rock scene. No need to fear though this song was amplified and a bit more rocking than the album version. One definitely could not miss that fact.
Finally, “Once More For The Ocean” was a fantastic transition piece into the end of their set. Speaking to the crowd Wellbaum announced she “writes a lot about oceans”. This we know is true just by song titles alone. Nonetheless, the performance of the song itself was killer and arguably one of their most progressive of the evening. Drummer Will Gorin laid out the loudest cymbal crashes of the night and led the band into the clean musical breaks during the first half of the song. At this point, most of the crowd was dancing and swaying around more than before. Honestly, it ripped and was a lot of fun to feel that free within a crowd of strangers just enjoying themselves.
Overall, Slothrust brings their alternative sound and skilled musicianship to a higher level with their live performance. Not to take anything away from their recordings, but to experience the nuances of their music live has opened up a new way to look and feel about their musical catalog. From start to finish, it was a fun and straightforward rock show with brief moments of fragility and honesty. It was a welcome kick to the senses. If Slothrust comes to your town I highly suggest you go. In this day and age, you get a full-on rock show with danceability all at an amazingly affordable price.
1. Surf Goth
2. 7:30 am (You’re The Worst Theme)
5. The Next Curse
6. A Giant Swallow
7. Magnets Pt2
9. Double Down
10. Birthday Cake
12. Once More For The Ocean
13. Over The Moon (Harold Arlen Cover)
16. Some Kind of Cowgirl
17. Horseshoe Crab