Slothrust 10th anniversary album celebration show

Slothrust at High Noon Saloon

Slothrust in town for a show at the High Noon Saloon celebrating the ten-year anniversary of their 2014 album "Of Course You Do." A large crowd waits patiently in anticipation as I maneuver toward the front of the stage.

Always open to meeting new people at shows, Paul introduces himself to me in front of a monitor while wearing cat ears on top of his long flowing hair. He shows me his new smartphone with 100x zoom and an LED string of lights wrapped around his body powered by a small battery. He flicks a switch and starts intermittently flashing like a Christmas display without the reindeer. I'm thinking this must be the result of some kind of hallucinogen. The club must be selling a new mushroom-infused seltzer. You never know with Live Nation.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Leah Wellbaum along with drummer Will Gorin have a unique take on their alternative guitar-centric compositions, having both been jazz students at Sarah Lawrence College outside of New York. They are not afraid of improvisation. The duo joined by touring bassist Annie Hoffman put on a powerful show showcasing Wellbaum’s guitar prowess with signature abandon and some rock star poses. The song dynamics with soft acoustic-like passages transitioning into riff-ready power chords and anthemic choruses is very addictive. The tempo never drags. Wellbaum paces the stage with momentary camera-ready cinematic stances. Her almost deadpan vocal delivery reveals deep personal experiences and observations giving a very unique halo to to the bands sound. Sort of a Lou Reed cadence.

The set was a combination of newer material and a straight run through of all the songs on the “Of Course You Do” album. The 2014 release contains some of the band's most popular tracks. The audience sings along with “Crockpot” one of the centerpieces of the anniversary tour songbook as Wellbaum places her foot strategically on a monitor during the guitar solo staring into the mass of bodies. As the song ends, she walks up to the mike.

“What day is it?” asks Wellbaum, “Wednesday right?”

“It’s Thursday,” shouts someone from the crowd.

“I was close,” replies Wellbaum.

Ah, the joys of a touring band. While the focus of the set was on the anniversary album, Slothrust played tracks off their latest EP including a very progressive instrumental version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". The band may not have been in Kansas anymore as drummer Will Gorin laid down some Neil Peart laden debauchery to Wellbaum’s slowcore-infused melody guitar lines. This is where the jazz school of improvisation comes into play. Keep in mind, this is a band who dedicated more than half of their recent EP to versions of “Pony,” a song by R&B star Ginuwine. Tonight, the live version bristled with low-end fuzzy bass turning the cover into more of a '90s grunge experience. At one point, Wellbaum exits the stage midsong and reemerges with a gold shroud draped over her head, bubble gun in hand shooting transparent globules into the crowd. It’s a scene from the band’s video for Pony. Nothing like a bit of theatrics for a well-paced show. Wellbaum addresses the crowd with a plea to visit the merchandise table as “It’s the only way bands make any money these days,” Slothrust finishes the evening with a two-song encore ending with the punkish chaos of "Planetarium."

Opening the show was Weakened Friends. The Portland, Maine indie rock trio has developed a rabid following with numerous releases on Don Giovani Records. The band did an exceptional job warming up the crowd for the Slothrust onslaught. Bassist Annie Hoffman was pulling double duty playing for both bands tonight.
As for my new acquaintance Paul, he went missing after the break between bands. Paul couldn’t make it back to the front of the stage before Slothrust started their set due to a surging crowd.  The blinking LED lights did him no good. A lesson learned on club shows. Once in the front row, stay in the front row.

Leah Wellbaum

Slothrust Playlist

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