Part of the reason we wanted to see Mother Falcon at Club Cafe was to see how Austin’s sprawling, 12-person baroque-chamber-starshine-pop ensemble could actually fit on Club Cafe’s modestly sized stage. Lo and behold, they actually managed to fit 15 people onstage including co-headliner Ben Sollee and his group. At any given time during the show one could expect to see three cellists, two violinists, two drummers, two saxophonists, two guitarists, a keyboard/accordion player, a sitar/keyboard player, a trumpeter and a bassist.
Instead of the traditional opener-intermission-headliner format, the two groups structured their show differently. Mother Falcon performed a joint, continuous, set with co-headliner Ben Sollee, weaving his tracks and their tracks throughout the nonstop 2 hour set. Members of each group played on each other’s songs and it was difficult for the untrained observer to figure out whose tracks were whose at times. This show was also the first concert where the groups tried out this new format.
Throughout the set, members of each group told various stories that maintained a fun and lighthearted atmosphere, while letter the personalities of each group reach the audience through the crowded stage. In addition to performing an impromptu song about how hot the stage was with all 15 musicians on it, Ben also humorously recounted his story of following a former girlfriend out to California only to have his heart broken. On the drive home, one tree on the side of one mountain had taken on the exact same color as his ex’s hair.
The lead singer of Mother Falcon similarly told stories about going to his mom to complain about girlfriends or when his current girlfriend buried a gift in Boston for him to find two weeks later while he was touring and he accidentally dug up a whole flowerbed in Paul Revere Park.
Yet despite having 15 people onstage and telling endearingly awkward stories, the two groups stole the show by perfectly executing their full, orchestral tracks. Simply put, the music was really, really good. Ben Sollee’s music achieved new heights with Mother Falcon’s robust backing. Mother Falcon’s mostly timid vocals were greatly augmented by Sollee’s vocal grace and confidence.
Each song that the group performed featured precise execution by Mother Falcon’s classically trained members, vocal harmonies from the majority of the performers onstage and wide smiles from everyone holding an instrument. Both groups had infectious positivity that made its way to both the audience and the other performers. All of the musicians clearly took immense pleasure in playing off of one another and executing their parts in perfect unison with the rest of the ensemble, creating a show that was as fun as it was technically impressive.
Mother Falcon showed off their experimental side in the penultimate track, using drumsticks to play miscellaneous percussion parts on everything from mic stands to empty beer glasses, even ripping up their setlist in front of microphones to add to the ambiance. After that, the show ended on Ben Sollee’s, Electrified.
No matter what type of music is played, a lot of really talented musicians in one place makes for an awesome show. In this case, infectious energy, well-written songs, and a gathering of talented and quirky musicians made for a phenomenal show. Ben Sollee’s music came across as full and robust, and Mother Falcon had a great time onstage. Definitely go see either one of these acts should they perform solo, and if they ever tour together again, please attend and witness the magic that graced Club Cafe on Tuesday night.