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Concert Fri Nov 15 2013
Photo courtesy Rathbourne's Facebook page
Double Door has a long storied past. The smallish venue has hosted some of the biggest names in music, ranging from a secret Rolling Stones show to a Sonic Youth fronted Lollapalooza after party. The venue's countless events have cemented its reputation and iconic status, but for last night's opening band Rathborne, nobody has ever come closer to embodying fictional DD band Sonic Death Monkey (now Barry Jive & The Uptown Five) and Rob Gordon's DJing. The High Fidelity reference fell flat for some of the audience, (with quite a few asking who are Sonic Death Monkey?) but that didn't stop the bands' consistently fun interaction with the crowd.
Rathborne, an incredibly polished four piece band out of New York City, opened up the night very at ease.They played like they were right at home, which isn't that much of a stretch as Luke Rathborne shared a story about almost going to Columbia College, only to drop out when he saw crumpled up school pamphlets after missing the orientation and realizing his father would no longer be paying the tab. It was a fun soliloquy between songs that fit perfectly with the band's attitude. Jokes about a fake Tecate sponsorship and syth/guitar player Jimmy Gianopoulos' "Here's the Beef" shirt only added to their playfulness. There never seemed to be a misstep from the band, always playing to the crowd with an intensely confident swagger as Luke Rathborne occasionally shredded at the edge of the stage.
One of the many highlights of Rathborne's set was the incredibly playful "Why", which came early in the night and amped up the crowd quite well. "Wanna Be You" played remarkably sweetly, drawing the crowd in even more than before. Their final song, "So Long NYC", truly showed their musicianship, making it a proper send off to one of the best opening bands I've seen all year.
Quickly after Rathborne exited, the elements of Albert Hammond, Jr's setup filled the stage. The drum set featuring the furious dog in mid bark or bite from his latest EP AHJ across the front bass drum was unveiled. The voracious beast stared straight into the crowd while half a dozen light posts were placed around the stage. They emitted a strong red light, which ended up dominating the color of the venue throughout Albert Hammond, Jr's astounding set.
Hammond, Jr. comes out dressed all in black save for his red suspenders, matching the ambiance around him. He looked regal with his once long curls now cut down by age. He and the band were met with an uproarious cheer from the crowd as the opening of "Holiday" begins. One could tell that Hammond was incredibly grateful for the response, not simply because he made a point of it throughout the show, but because of the finesse of his smile every time the audience cheered at the exact right time.
Hammond, Jr. and the band played with their entire bodies, getting lost in the grove of the songs. At one point Hammond mentioned how natural it feels to be playing at Double Door; zoning out like some do while driving home after a long day. He immediately finds himself back on that train of thought as he crouched and grinded down on his guitar, raising a sensuous noise that evolved to a wonderful melody, bleeding right into "Victory at Monterey".
A plea from Hammond, Jr. to be judged by only the left side of the crowd resulted in a boisterous approval of the night from the entire crowd. It's not surprising; everyone at the concert had been moving with the music the entire night. Hammond, Jr.'s revelation of having helped produced Rathbornes' latest album only cemented the audiences love of the entire show. It was not just further approval of the excellent opener, but more reverence being passed onto Hammond, Jr.
Albert Hammond, Jr.'s set perfectly blended aspects of Yours to Keep and ¿Cómo Te Llama? with the entirety of AHJ. It could easily be one of the best of the year. The whole set had a perfect progression, jumping from song to song with ease, as if this order was meant to be. Hammond, Jr. has shifted from simply being a guitarist in The Strokes to a confident and verifiable front man, deserving of the accolades that night. The encore featured two songs, "Boss Americana" with the full band in tow and an achingly touching solo rendition of "Blue Skies". The completely devoted crowd at Double Door sang along with Hammond, Jr., right to the end when those dimming red light posts finally knocked them out.
additional photographs by the author