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Review and photos by Tony BonyataLast Tuesday the DC-based indie rock collective These United States made their first appearance in Milwaukee at Club Garibaldi's (a cozy unpretentious corner bar in the Bay View area that has been booking some remarkable up-and-coming bands), and while they may call Capital City home, the blood of The South managed to bubble and spew from their intense and rewarding set. Make no mistake, though, this is no Southern rock band (even if drummer Robby Cosenza and guitarist Justin Craig - both of The Apparitions and The Scourge of The Sea - hail from Lexington, KY), but rather a group that incorporates the spirit of The South, as if The Band were hosting a backyard barbeque at Big Pink.
Their forthcoming effort Everything Touches Everything marks their third full-length release in a mere 18 months, with nearly 500 shows already under their belt. The quintet's fountainhead, Jesse Elliott, led the band through the first two-thirds of the show with a number of songs from their first two releases A Picture Of The Three Of Us At The Gate To The Garden Of Eden and Crimes. While songs such as "First Sight" and the decidedly looser "Honor Amongst Thieves" may have originally presented themselves as well-behaved pop songs on record, when unleashed on stage they grew mighty limbs that stomped and pounded from floor to ceiling. Perhaps not since a live Led Zeppelin show has the term 'tight but loose' applied so perfectly to a band, primarily thanks to the organic rhythm section of Cosenza and bassist Colin Kellogg holding down the foundation of the songs but also giving pedal steel/guitarist J. Tom Hnatow, Elliott and Craig (whose guitar sonics are what James Iha was to the Smashing Pumpkins when they actually mattered) plenty of room to stretch out and improvise on.
Saving the best for last, TUS unveiled their newer numbers "The Important Thing," "End," "I Want You to Keep Everything" and the raucous encore of "Everything Touches Everything." While the local crowd may not have been familiar with these songs, they immediately embraced them as if long loved favorites. And with a forceful momentum building for the band (through multiple releases, relentless touring, press accolades and heavy airplay at college radio), it shouldn't be long before their music is well-known throughout these entire United States.
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