As much as I can be a dedicated home body, so can Elise, and after almost five years of trying to align the moons and stars of our social inclinations we’ve finally realized that sometimes it’s okay to go out alone.
My recently social outings have been split evenly between the aforementioned best friend Gina (w/boyfriend Wes), and Elise’s best friend Amanda, because it stands to reason that anyone who could tolerate hanging out with Elise 40hrs a week of work plus however many hours of rehearsal will probably be able to tolerate me for the length of a concert or two.
I was a little startled when Catfish began to play, because I thought they were just roadies – three unassuming men with long hair and t-shirts who had just been tuning up their instruments. A few bars into their first song my interest was piqued. By song three I was utterly hooked.
I was drawn in by a sound I can only attempt to describe as such: Joe Cocker fronting My Morning Jacket, cranking out occassional raunchy acoustic Franz Ferdinand covers, except Catfish is tuneful and poppy, wearing a badge of Motown soul influence where the aforementioned bands can be too obscure or trite. Not to mention the absolute perfection of Van Morrison pop on “Tell Me” and “”Crazy For Leaving.”
Yeah, they’re eclectic.
Solid drumming from Ryan Farnham was focused by pogoing (sometimes punkish) bass from Miguel Castillo, both underscoring big, crunchy rock chords from singer/guitarist George Hunter.
George wielded a thinline Ibanez the entire time, yet the band’s sound was mostly massive and electric, jangly and propulsive. Animated throughout, the band exchanged self-effacing quips with the audience, making note of songs that were particular good to dance or neck to, as the case might be.
The Chicago-based trio have been fast friends since youth, and were touring behind a self-published EP in 2001 when they sent a demo to Secretly Canadian Records. A week later the label caught a show and the band was signed.
After the set, the super-cool Miguel divulged that they tried a few shows with George on electric guitar, but it never worked. When I quizzed George on how he got such a thick sound from a thinline acoustic he shrugged, “I just use heavy strings, and run it through the twin.” (either meaning this or this)
More to the point, he just plays *hard*, going for every power chord, hard bend, and tremelo with the gusto of a rock god strapped with a Les Paul.
Catfish Haven put out a new full-length – Tell Me – this September. It’s not flashy, and a little rough around the edges, but in all it’s just about as satisfying as their concert – trading in on the manic volume of their loud act for some nuanced backing vocals and horns.
They’re on a three-date run with Heartless Bastards before heading out on a brief tour with the Hold Steady. You can be their MySpace friend, see the video for “Tell Me”, or check them out on Daytrotter, a cool online music mag which featured a great writeup and a quartet of Catfish tunes earlier this year. Of the four, aim for Down By You Fire for Joe Cockerness and Medelin for danciness.