Originally Published In The Daily Free Press on 2/1/12
After playing The Great Scott and BU Central in 2011, Smith Westerns returned to Boston to headline their own gig at Commonwealth Avenue’s finest establishment, The Paradise Rock Club, this past Sunday.
On record, Smith Westerns deliver catchy and hook-laden tracks that are infused with 70s glam-rock aesthetics; however, they have yet to develop a reputation for being a strong live act. Despite this fault and the uncharacteristically small Paradise crowd (perhaps it’s because the band has returned to Boston three times since releasing their January 2011 Dye It Blonde), Smith Westerns gave a robust performance that became progressively better with each passing song.
At first the songs didn’t differ too much from the lo-fi rock of the records where the two guitars can easily be lost in the mix of hazy glam rock, but once the band warmed up, they journeyed further from their formula. Predictably then, the band’s last few songs were their strongest of the night. On “Smile,” “Be My Girl,” “Dye The World,” “Fallen In Love,” and “Weekend,” guitar flourishes were more distinct and Cullen Omori’s voice was more audible. Poor sound engineering plagues far too many concerts, but Smith Westerns enjoyed a night of strong vocals and easily distinguishable instruments.
Another highlight of the night was the band’s new and unnamed track. The fresh number is much blusier than the band’s other material and lead guitarist Max Kakacek sounded much more technically savvy than ever, playing a bluesy riff that was accentuated by a slowed-down and calculatedly messy guitar solo. It was a welcome change for the band and hopefully this fuller sound finds itself on the next album.
Smith Westerns are very much a maturing band and their live shows should continue to improve. Any young band with only a couple of albums to their credit will struggle to find the right stage presence, but Smith Westerns are well on their way. While Paradise didn’t sell out for the band this time, give it a year and another album release and the band should be able to fill the house.