These United States @ Taproot
July 27th, 2012 By: Darrin Christopher Huycke
"Were you here last night?" the door man asked me as I walked into the Spenard house of music: Taproot Saturday night.
"No, but I'm here to find out what everyone is talking about" I said.
"Well they brought it hard, they rock man!" the door man informed me.
The door man and I were talking about the entertainment of the night, which was produced by local company Northbound Productions whom have brought many out of state talents to Alaska. After getting into Taproot I was greeted with some harmonica tunes to a chill crowd - a crowd anticipating an evening of banging music from These United States. To start the night mellow though, Tim Easton belted his soul with an acoustic guitar, stomp pad, harmonica, and a voice rich with blues.
"Tim is one of the top 25 song writers of our time. I mean man, he had members from Wilco back him up on his 2nd record." Evan Philips came to tell me as we were watching Easton's set. The musical genius warmed the crowd up as he kept playing - which matched perfectly with the candle lit tables of Taproot. While Easton mixed up his tempo, the ladies did not hesitate to get onto the dance floor and jig some. With the combination of a beer in hand and the ambiance of the room, I knew I was in for a treat soon once These United States took the stage.
Easton closed his set with the most rocking song I heard from him that night: Just Like Home. Catch Easton down at Salmonstock or back at the Taproot again on Aug. 9th with Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit.
Once Easton finished, an "intermission" feeling consumed Taproot. The crowd rushed for another round of beers, traveled outside to catch some air, and chatted it up with friends who were all getting ready for the pull of the night, These United States.
I settled back down once These United States drifted into their opening song. They started slow and melodic which lured the audience's attention by featuring their musical talents immediately. Then Aaron Latos (drummer) brought out the energy I was anticipating, which seemed to ignite the rest of the band soon after. Anna Morset (bassist) started jumping around the stage and that was entertaining to see because for such a talented vocalist and bassist, she's so tiny that her guitar is as big as her!
"We had such a great time last night, we're excited to play for you again Alaska" says front-man Jesse Elliot. When the third song came J. Tom Hnatow grabbed his pedal steel bringing a warmer feeling to the composition of These United States' songs.
"Come on and get out on the dance floor, we saw you do it last night. It will be better for you, better for us." Elliot said to stir up the crowd before busting out one of their hits "Honor Amongst Thieves". Once the audience was teased with the band's charisma and jams, These United States took a quick break to chill before their longer 2nd set. The lush attendants did not complain.
After their set break the group brought back the hip shaking music right away. It is phenomenal to watch These United States' perfectly timed riffs on songs they load up on the 6 strings when featuring three guitars. The mood had been set and the audience supported this by finally packing the dance floor. I could feel the night was at it's peak - people smiling and dancing, the rush of the bartenders and servers trying to keep up with them, and the vibrations of a band that has honed in on what defines today's Americana genre.
It was a privileged to attend this show and I want to thank all those that brought it to me. These United States is one of the bands I would want to see at a festivals anywhere in the world. From Lollapalooza to South by Southwest, These United States always leave the stage with people raving about them and it's a honor to be doing that for my home town. Alaska rarely gets to see talent that is currently "hot" so having a band like These United States is a blessing, one that I hope to see continue. If you haven't heard of them yet I highly suggest you check out a few tracks - a personal favorite is "When You're Traveling at the Speed of Light".
Though the show was less attended than I thought it would be, I hope I've bragged enough to motivate an investigation into more of what this town has to offer for next time. Alaska is unique because of it's location and nationality which leaves us striving for more "up-to-date" entertainment. With some effort you can find good times right around the corner, like those who did by dancing the night away at Taproot on Saturday, July 27th.
Enjoy local, enjoy music, enjoy life.
Darrin Christopher Huycke