Strand of Oaks | 08.21.14

strandof sqThe band channeled their anger and bitterness of this incident into their performance; turning a very negative into a very strong positive.

 

Off Broadway St Louis

The last few weeks have been a troubled time here in St Louis. Being in the forefront of the news for something very serious and very bad is never a good thing for any town, which makes the events leading up to this show even more troubling and motivating. Upon arriving at Off Broadway on a ridiculously humid night, I find out from talking to members of Strand of Oaks, as well as a few fans outside, that their van was broken into earlier that day. Strand of Oaks was on air at KDHX and doing an in-studio performance at the time. Their gear wasn’t stolen, but sadly, all of the keyboardist’s clothes, the bassist’s laptop and passport, and some other things were grifted. I was worried how this would affect the show. Would we still have it? Would the band understandably phone it in and move on? This is not the first time this has happened here recently, and it seems to be getting worse. Just even more reason to give people the worst impression of our town.

However, much to the credit of Strand of Oaks as a whole, and band leader Tim Showalter in particular, they rose above this. A smaller crowd than I anticipated—but much larger than Showalter did—were treated to a fantastic and impassioned performance. The band channeled their anger and bitterness of this incident into their performance; turning a very negative into a very strong positive. Throughout the night, they were very gracious for the turnout and for the warm reception they received. As their set continued, you could almost see the anger melt away as were having a great time on stage.

The song list pulled mostly from 2014’s outstanding Heal, but was smattered with songs from 2012’s Dark Shores and 2010’s Pope Killdragon. The song choice enabled the band to play to their live strengths and allow each member room to showcase his talents, which are aplenty. Tim is quite the guitarist and sings with such conviction. Through their set Tim alluded to his rough beginnings and instead of using that as an excuse he uses his life experiences to write well-crafted and rocking songs. They are a very fun band to watch live and one to keep an eye on as they should be bigger. After the show, Showalter came out onto the floor to greet and enthusiastically hug fans. This had to be one helluva cathartic show for them; I’m just glad those in attendance were able to help redeem things for them.

The show got off to an unassuming but haunting start with Arkansas native Christopher Denny, who sings old-style, haunting ballads about his hard life. His warbly, high-ranged voice is mesmerizing and confusing all in one. I can’t even describe how unique his voice is and how well it meshes into his songs about lost love, heartache, spirituality, addiction, and life. In his own words, he hasn’t toured for several years and was still getting back into the swing of things, but he sounded great. A fantastic opener to a fantastic night. | Mike Koehler

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