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After a pretty lame applause from the crowd, Greg Dulli emerged to the stage. Smoking his hundredth cigarette of the night, the Gutter Twins co-frontman quickly confronted the crowd as to why the rest of the band remained hidden in the shadows on the side of the stage. Saying something like “We walk off stage, 5 people clap, and we’re supposed to come back out and play more songs,” he criticized the crowd for their incredibly weak call for an encore.
Encores have become an expected thing. Many bands even write out what songs they’ll be playing on their set list, so there’s no element of surprise. Encores are supposed to be an extra special treat for an audience so enthusiastic that they will stand and cheer all night until they hear one last song. But how can you clap when you’re busy sending text messages about how good the show was?
When Dulli referenced how encores were done in Mozart’s day, one fan yelled “Mozart sucks!”
Quickly, Dulli replied “No he doesn’t,” before ripping ever so slightly into that fan.
After a bit more Mozart talk, and a bit more criticism, Dulli pushed the crowd to make some noise to bring out the rest of the band. Luckily for all of us, they were probably always planning on coming out, because although it was better than before Dulli’s actions, it was still a pretty weak encore.
Maybe it’s because New York City crowds go to too many shows and have just gotten to a point where they expect things, but the encores get weaker and weaker with every show I attend. It was on that very stage of Webster Hall less than a year ago that Dinosaur Jr received an even lamer applause, and tore apart the crowd for it. Bands have taken notice and will hopefully stop being so generous and start making their audiences work for that extra special something.
As for the Gutter Twins, their performance was not the reason for the lame response. As expected, the dream frontman tag-team of Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs, Twilight Singers) and Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees) did not disappoint. Pitchfork described them perfectly when they said “Lanegan sings like he’s rising from the dead, Dulli like he’s falling from grace.” With the band playing flawlessly behind them, the two ‘90s alternative rock idols showcased the dark lullabies of their debut “Saturnalia.”
Dulli played the more charismatic role, while the towering Lanegan seemed almost motionless, letting his deep, dark haunting voice do all the work for him. With very little light on the stage, it was hard to make out even a change of expression on Lanegan’s face, who also managed to be the only member not to smoke during the set.
For their encore, Dulli and Lanegan reached into their extensive back catalogs, with Lanegan’s “Hit The City” acting as a definite highlight.