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Critics' Choice
A POSIES BOOTLEG
1/21/19

by Simon Glickman

Posies co-founders Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer showed up to L.A.'s Bootleg Theater as an electric duo on 1/20, sans rhythm section but plugged in and prepared for a deep dive into their catalog. 

The Seattle-bred Posies seemed poised, back in the early '90s, to ride the decade's amped-up rock revival to fame and fortune, offering as they did a Beatles/Big Star-infused take on the alternative sound of the era. They weren't grunge, but they could sling huge, buzzy, psychedelic guitar rock—while singing incandescent harmonies.

Alas, the band was a little too smart (and sweet) for the room, despite making a couple of damn-near-perfect records and several others that, while less hard-hitting, were filled with strong songs. (They also teamed up with surviving Big Star members for a string of beautiful shows and recordings.)

The depth of the pair's material was certainly on display at the Bootleg, as Jon and Ken dove into early tracks both well known ("Dream All Day," "Solar Sister," "Suddenly Mary") and obscure ("Definite Door," "Everybody Is a Fucking Liar," "Believe in Something Other [Than Yourself]"). The chemistry they've honed over 30 or so years was well in evidence, and their gorgeous vocal blend hasn't aged a day. Their stage banter, meanwhile, tended toward the ultra-nerdy (Star Trek references abounded, as well as riffs on possible franchise movies by arthouse directors), which was about right for the audience.

Ken sat at the piano for several songs, expanding the evening's sonic palette, and opener Simone White (whose folky, incantatory approach recalled early Joni Mitchell filtered through Steeleye Span) chimed in with some additional harmonies.

They didn't play "Golden Blunders" or about 10 other old favorites over the course of the set, but it was a rare pleasure to hear deep tracks performed intimately and with such zest. The Posies are due to deliver an album of new material soon; we'll tell you all about it when it arrives. In the meantime, you might want to check out Omnivore's lavish reissues of the band's releases.