Posted by: Johnny Loftus on October 31, 2007 at 2:00 pm

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Everything about the recent Detroit stop from Canada’s Weakerthans screamed comfort and coziness, a feat hard to achieve in the sometimes stiff and uninviting world of indie rock. On one of the first truly chilly days of Michigan’s autumn, the kids came out dressed appropriately: birds-nest beards scraggled to perfection and hoodies zipped up tight, they chugged brown ale to warm their souls. On the stage were four precisely round drum skins, all back-lit and illuminating a soft, hazy yellowish glow. A relaxed mixture of feedback and orchestral loops lured the band onstage, and they instantly launched into the laid-back favorite “Psalm for the Elks Lodge Last Call” (from 2003′s Reconstruction Site), gently guiding the eager mixture of Detroit-rock troubadours and high-school aged Canadians – from across the bridge in Windsor – into the palm of their hands.

Front-and-center is ex-Propagandhi bassist John K. Samson, an indie rock poet if there ever was one, who dishes out the kind of lyrics people use as headlines in emails or spray-paint in alleys. Unshaven, wearing a checked shirt, younger and thinner than one would imagine, he’s the anti-Craig Finn; instead of flailing his arms and flaunting his intellectual prowess, Samson coolly and confidently details the struggles of working class Winnipeg (where the band is from) as if he were matter-of-factly describing its plight to you over the phone. But like the Hold Steady, Samson is backed by a band of crack musicians, belting out bombastic country-rock numbers that are as much Jawbreaker as they are Uncle Tupelo and tepid ballads that highlight Samson’s nasally, earnest drawl and brainy couplets. But despite the high intellect, the Weakerthans are one of the most inviting and accessible bands in indie rock. They especially were on this frigid evening, the musical equivalent of a warm blanket, a cup of hot chocolate, and a good book. Comfy cozy. — Ryan Allen

[tags]Weakerthans, John K. Samson, Winnipeg, Propagandhi[/tags]

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