1) Valley Maker himself (itself?), of course. VM is the recent songwriting nom de plume of Austin Crane, who released a few quite-excellent records under his own name and the Valley Maker moniker before departing for graduate school in 2010. Crane only plays a few gigs a year, and all of them mostly here in Columbia on his brief returns. His last record (and first under the VM name) came out in 2010, and is still one of the most-downloaded South Carolina records on Bandcamp to date. All of which is to say that each show he performs becomes a near must-see. Plus, his new full-length Yes I Know I’ve Loved This World is pretty killer.
2) Opener Amy Godwin, who provides the haunting, mood-setting background vocals on Valley Maker records, started the show off my using extensive vocal loops to harmonize with herself on her traditional folk-meets-dream pop sound that is absolutely enchanting.
3) Let’s Go Coyote! frontman Pat Wall (Free Times music editor and Those Lavender Whales guitarslinger Pat Wall) takes a visceral joy in playing the electric guitar as oddly and brashly as he wants, and in the process demonstrates exactly what rock and roll played live should be about.
4) The stage banter bromance of Wall and drummer Aaron Graves, who fronts Those Lavender Whales, also gave LGC an appeal which really only comes through on stage.
5) Those Lavender Whales were co-headliners, and hearing them shoot through songs on their new EP, entitled Parts & Pieces/Goose and Geeses, was worth the ticket price alone. I called their last record my favorite local release of last year, and I’m pretty sure some of these songs are even better.
6) The gang vocals on Valley Maker’s final song (the new record's closing number, “Goodness”). While perhaps not strictly necessary, it was a striking reminder of how the camaraderie of local musicians and their uninhibited affection for each other’s songs is what makes a music scene in the first place. And, of course, just how good of a songwriter Crane is. Musical moments that combine the warm-and-fuzzy with goosebumps are rare, but they happen, as this loveable moment proved.
Why You Should Go to Shows is a projected blog series that describes the specific joys of certain live performances rather than providing a strict review of the show in question or speaking of the joy of patronage in the abstract. Kind of.