“If I ever hurt you, it will be in self-defense,” those were the first words to come from Spencer Krug as he began his set last night (06.20.09) at Mohawk. They were sung in his trademark vocal style that sounds like he is either on the edge of bursting into tears or teetering on the brink of insanity. The lyrics themselves are also a brand of their own as most of the time they are so cryptic you never really can tell what he is talking about. “No I’m not the type of that whore, but I am a little lord,” Krug sings and later leads the crowd in chants of “You snake!” The song is “The Empty Threats of Little Lord” and the band he was with was Sunset Rubdown.
The song leads directly into “Idiot Heart,” the first single off of the band’s newest album Dragonslayer. For Spencer Krug it’s his third release in just over a year with as many bands: the others being Wolf Parade’s At Mount Zoomer and Swan Lake’s Enemy Mine. With a constant stream of material coming from him it would be easy for Sunset Rubdown to fall into the cracks, but undoubtedly this band stands out as the most prolific of Krug’s projects. It also stands out as the most critically acclaimed. Thanks is due mostly to the rest of the band. Initially conceived as a solo outlet, Krug has since drafted a mighty group of musicians to make up Sunset Rubdown— most notably vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Camilla Wynne Ingr and Jordan Robson-Cramerwhose drums perfectly complement the theatric moments of Krug. Sunset Rubdown is an epic band in every sense of the word.
The crowd at Mohawk was with Sunset Rubdown at each step. “Idiot Heart” received a welcome response and got more than just a few people dancing. After the two opening songs Krug moved from guitar to his more traditional place at the keyboard. Old favorite “The Mending of the Gown” kept the crowd dancing. From there we were treated to several new tracks including the soft melodies of “Silver Moons” and the blazing movement of “Black Swan.”
Towards the end of their nearly hour long set Krug and company again reached back to their earlier release Random Spirit Lover for the grand “Winged/Wicked Things” with Krug belting out like he was at the top of a mountain “And if chaos is yours, then chaos is mine. And chaos is love, and they say love is blind.” To close out they gave us a pair of newbies: the long and quiet “Dragon’s Lair,” and the larger than live “Nightengale/December Song.”
This being my second time seeing Sunset Rubdown live, I can truthfully say they are one of my favorite live bands. Their performance comes across as epic and majestic as their albums. And listening to Dragonslayer (their third full-length as a full band) as I write this, I can definitely say that I’m hearing one of the best albums of 2009. While there is plenty of Spencer Krug material to go around these days, he has always been strongest when surrounded by his Sunset Rubdown bandmates.
Dragonslayer officially hits stores this Tuesday, June 23. Do yourself a favor and pick this up. It is officially Trinity Stardust approved.