Concert Review: The Crane Wives, February 15, Schubas


What’s better than a great band?

A great band that loves books.

But let’s start at the beginning. I did not want to go out Saturday night. I’d spent the entire day at the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) conference, which had finished with a lecture by my childhood hero, Alan Alda, portrayer of Hawkeye Pierce on MASH and host of Scientific American Frontiers. A perfect end to a perfect day. Emphasis on the end part. To say that I was not looking forward to starting round two of my day at 10pm, putting on pants and hauling butt to Schubas would be an understatement.

But I did it. Hey – I’m a Panic Manual correspondent, okay? Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this courier from the swift completion of her appointed rounds.

And I was most certainly rewarded for my efforts. The Crane Wives are a delightful Americana/folk fivesome out of Grand Rapids Michigan, and they are a raging good time. Lead singers Emilee Petersmark and Kate Pillsbury lead the band with their strong vocals, while the banjo player, drummer and bassist, all lanky and adorable, bring the heat and a twang of honky-tonk in the background.

The band is not only a toe tapping, head nodding, finger snapping good time – they’re also book lovers. Petersmark at one point announced that a song was dedicated to Adam Trask, the “evil brother” in John Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.” A great sounding, fantastic looking, literate band? The complete package – sign me up. I’ll take two.

The one and only pitfall of the night was the bassist – Ben Zito. Now I like to think that I’m fairly happy with my chosen line of work – I don’t detest getting up in the morning and going to my job. I mean that’s all you can ask for, right? Wrong. I have never, ever, in my entire life, seen a human being so happy to be where he was right at that moment. I thought the guy was going to strain a muscle he was singing along to the songs so hard. ‘Okay’, you might say, ‘but I’ve seen a lot of artists who are really enthusiastic performers – what makes this guy different?’ Glad you posed the question, here’s why – dude didn’t have a microphone. He was just singing along the same way you would if you heard your favorite song on the radio. Hey, Zito, tone it down would you? There are some of us who don’t feel complete and utter euphoria in our chosen line of work, and you’re making us feel bad.

Posted on by Celeste in Concerts