The Swell Season is upon us (Concert Review)

Frames frontman Glen Hansard, with Czech singer/pianist Marketa Irglova, brought a cool European respite to the sweltering DC summer when their group, aptly named The Swell Season, descended upon the 9:30 Club last night. Opening up for them was the very capable Amy LaVere, who wowed the audience with her stand-up bass technique. The Memphis musician's style can best be described as a little jazz and a whole lotta boogie woogie, the result sounding not unlike a Dixie Chicks cover of a Norah Jones song.

Hansard established early in the Swell Season set exactly why he's the hardest working man on stage, pouring every bit of himself into the fan-pleasing tracks When Your Mind's Made Up and Lies. Marketa took center stage to sing If You Want Me from the Once soundtrack, and an as yet unreleased track entitled Fantasy Man. Glen displayed his versatility, picking up a mandolin and taking a turn at the keyboard while Marketa sang. The band was clearly awed by the response from the audience, given the fact that they toured the US nearly anonymously last year. His graciousness didn't stop Glen from having a bit of fun with two drunk girls near the front of the audience, positing the theory that drunk Irishmen (and women) have spread to the far corners of the world, a view shared by a fellow concert goer and Irishwoman.

The surprise of the set was a lively cover of the Pixies Cactus, which nicely complemented the energy of the Frames' Pavement. The latter song, with it's lyric "I want my life to make more sense to me", eloquently expressed Hansard's surprise "overnight" success because of the movie. He spoke of his struggle as an artice and to get noticed, and how suddenly the world turned around and said "What?!". He expressed that, however puzzling (albeit in slightly coarser language), he was enjoying every minute of the ride. Swell Season concluded with covers of Van Morrison's Into the Mystic and Dylan's You Ain't Goin' Nowhere.