Live at the Empty Bottle — Grass Widow

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November 13th, 2012
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In order to fully grasp just how effortlessly Grass Widow balance their airy and winsome vocal harmonies with slightly raw, angst-laced instrumentals, you have to see them together on stage. Headlining in Chicago for the second time since the May release of their third full-length album Internal Logic (2012), the San Francisco-based trio’s no-frills delivery did not detract from their ability to captivate at the Empty Bottle on November 8th. In fact, their stripped-down approach proved to be a much needed breath of fresh air after a long summer of overhyped and overproduced tours and music festivals.

It quickly became clear that Grass Widow’s music contains more depth than many of the all girl 1960s throwback bands to which they’ve been compared. No formulaic gimmicks, necessary— for Grass Widow it’s all about a naturally working group dynamic.Bassist Hannah Lew, guitarist Raven Mahon, and drummer Lillian Maring immediately started in on their signature strikingly beautiful Nyquil-induced lullabies, but eventually the combination of pared-down guitar leads, driving bass lines, and crisp drum beats created an oddly disquieting sonic undercurrent that forbade the audience from slipping into any shoegazey comas.

Throughout the show, Lew, Mahon, and Maring were completely in sync, making eye contact and smiling at each other as if they had just discovered their sound for the first time. The band’s set proved that they strive for more than making music by the numbers, and it seems to be the symbiotic dynamic at the heart of the band that allows their music to successfully navigate the space between so many opposing elements.

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