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Review: David Wax Museum in Providence RI 12.2.11

Words // Brian Hodge

Much has been made about David Wax Museum on this site - and many, many others - along the band’s ascendant rise to indie darling-ship.  But setting aside the donkey jawbone (always awesome), going beyond the multi-instrument Mexi-’Mericana musicianship (continually impressive) and looking past their zealous marketing efforts (OK), and here emerges an undeniable authenticity in their act. 

Authenticity is often-sought, rarely obtained and difficult to describe without sounding stupid.  Maybe you just know it when you see it. Thankfully, I was able to see it on Friday night. 

On December 2, the David Wax Museum skirted south to Fête, a visually-striking (and promising) new venue in the west end of Providence.  The set burned slowly to begin with “That’s Not True” but quickly ramped up with “Beatrice,” and “The Persimmon Tree” before debuting one of two new songs for the night.

The new stuff sounded a lot like the old stuff - which is to say, lovely.  The musicality is still on full display, but an increased emphasis on vocal harmonies point toward another impressive effort.  Wax and co. plan to record the as-yet-untitled album this winter with aims of a (hopefully) fall release.

But if there any remaining pretenses about the ebullient enthusiasm on display that evening, they were quickly shed when the Museum took to the audience for an acapella version of “The Carpenter Bird.”  And then things got super-fun with the soulful “Night Was a Car” and the delightfully unhinged “Unfruitful,” two highlights from the excellent Everything Is Saved LP.

The evening closed when opener Spiritual Family Reunion joined the headliners for a passionate and personal performance of “Let Me Rest.” 

Genuine articles are few and far between, especially in today’s burgeoning, multi-Grammy nomination for Mumford & Sons, hyper-hyphenated folk music scene.  Boston should be proud to possess one in the David Wax Museum.

Spirtual Family Reunion opened the evening, journeying from New York City (“Seven hours from here, if you drive on a Friday night,” lead singer Nick Panken quipped) opened the night with revivalist foot-stompers, borrowing bits from Hank Williams and early Johnny Cash, blurring the line between past and  present all along the way.

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