Peaceful Easy Feeling

Calexico at the Somerville Theatre, November 16, 2008
By RICHARD BECK  |  November 18, 2008

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The members of Calexico look like dads. They play a little like dads too. At the Somerville Theatre Sunday, the sextet took the stage all in jeans and untucked button-downs (nicely pressed), and in the two hours that followed they played music to match: clean-edged, borderland folk rock with a muted gothic churn.

It took them a long time to get going. The main problem with the Somerville is that there are seats, and so lead singer Joey Burns spent about two-thirds of the set playing to what he described as a very "relaxed" group. "You guys look good," he said. "Evenly spaced." But this crowd wasn't completely to blame for the chilled-out vibe. Calexico seemed to be so comfortable playing together that they forgot to have fun doing it. Set opener "Roka," the glumly swinging "Sunken Waltz," "Quattro," with all its little lap-slide cirrus clouds - these all chugged along beautifully, but the night could have used some kind of spontaneous something.

Things did get moving eventually, as a couple dozen fans made their way down the aisles and started to groove. Calexico dancing mostly involves a lot of snaky arm movements and wrist twirls. Two of these snaky dancers even undulated their way into each other's arms; they were later spotted on the sidewalk figuring out where to get the first drink. Some moved more timidly, shuffling back and forth, lightly bumping their hips against significant others.

Near the end of the night, the band came out of nowhere with two terrific covers: during Love's "Alone Again Or," I saw the guys smiling for the first time, and the Talking Heads' "Crosseyed and Painless" allowed for all kinds of jammy high jinks. It's probably not a good thing that I remember these two better than anything Calexico wrote themselves.

Related: Photos: Newport Folk Festival, part three, Review: Sunshine Cleaning, Calexico, More more >
  Topics: Live Reviews , Calexico, Calexico, Calexico,  More more >
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