Review / Setlist / Photos: Califone & William Tyler @ Lincoln Hall 2/1/14

Words / Photos: Alex Wood

As Califone walked on stage, drummers Joe Westerlund and Rachel Blumberg fiddled with a hodgepodge of small, electronic noisemakers, opening the show with layers of gurgling electronic noise.

Out of these noises came “Don’t Let Me Die Nervous” from 2000’s Califone EP, a track that showcases the band’s full range of dynamics in the live setting, its two drummers transforming Tim Rutili’s simple folk song by building to noisy climaxes between verses.

Throughout the show, the two drummers used a variety of synthesizers, percussion instruments and noisemakers as well as drumming, providing textures and creating a massive sound for each song. Wil Hendricks provided electric guitar, bass and keyboards, often contributing to the noisy ambience.

The songs from 2013’s Stitches were given an impressive gleam from the band members, two having played on the album. This being the last tour date and a hometown show added an air of excitement.

“Every time I come home I just get really fucking nervous,” Rutili said.

Rutili kept a slide on his little finger, adding a rustic, hazy feel to songs like “Movie Music Kills A Kiss,” the performance proving the band can be as gentle as they can be abrasive. “Bells Break Arms” featured Rutili’s keyboard buried in swelling ambient noise, an explosion of drums cutting through the song like glass.

The audience had a chance to experience Rutili’s quirky, somewhat dry humor as he apologetically changed a guitar string onstage.

“You know this used to be a movie theater?” he asked the audience, launching into a story about eating acid with friends and seeing a double feature of Freaks and Eraserhead. “Walking home after that… Oh man, that was scary,” he said.

Califone staples “Michigan Girls” and “The Orchids” were performed back to back, the crowd responding with enthusiasm and a surprising amount of the audience singing along.

Opener William Tyler joined the band for a few songs, his swirling, delay-drenched electric guitar adding to the pounding, hard-rocking “A Thin Skin Of Bullfight Dust,” a highlight of the show. “Frosted Tips” followed with matching force, the drummers playing with tribal intensity, Rutili watching with a rare smile.

In a recent interview with The Barn, Rutili admitted enjoying this tour more than any in the past five years, and it was apparent that night.

“Evidence” provided a feeling of closure with its somber, slow-paced density, Rutili holding the microphone with eyes closed, singing with focused concentration. “Fisherman’s Wife” followed, a treat for longtime fans, harkening to the past for an appropriate end to the hometown show.

Opener William Tyler was a perfect match for the band, his instrumental set featuring either a 12-string electric or standard acoustic, intricate picking patterns and alternate tunings abound.


1.) Don’t Let Me Die Nervous
2.) Funeral Singers
3.) Move Music Kills A Kiss
4.) Moses
5.) Stitches
6.) Bells Break Arms
7.) Electric Fence
8.) Michigan Girls
9.) The Orchids
10.) Magdalene
11.) A Thin Skin Of Bullfight Dust
12.) Frosted Tips
13.) moonbath.brainsalt.a.holy.fool

14.) Evidence
15.) Fisherman’s Wife


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