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Monday, Feb. 1, 2010

The Life and Times @ The Cactus Club

Jan. 30, 2010

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Though the liner notes of The Life and Times’ second full-length tell the story of a band without money that self-recorded “the larger-than-life record [they’d] been hearing in [their] heads” in a makeshift studio that previously served as a basement canning closet, the record encased beneath that very text embarks a symphonic jaunt to greater—and far less modest—expanses.

The Kansas City-based three piece came to The Cactus Club Saturday night to play, as summarized in those liner notes, “songs about the sun and love and death” from that minimalist masterpiece, Tragic Boogie.

Before The Life and Times took the stage, sleepcomesdown set the show in motion with a solid set rich in multi-tasking instrumentation, a myriad of loops and, at one point, an electric drill. Chicago rockers Sweet Cobra got the now-respectable-sized crowd moving with an energetic set in one of the band’s first performances since guitarist Matthew Arluck died of cancer.

The headliner wasted little time in strapping the surprisingly sparse collection of onlookers in for a spacey set, opening with “Catching Crumbs,” one of Boogie’s doomed cosmonaut-themed tracks. They chased it with “Let It Eat” and “Que Sera Sera,” two of the album’s more upbeat hymns. Most of the band’s set came from their latest album.

Throughout the show, frontman Allen Epley (of Shiner fame) belted out shut-eyed melodies and subsidiary guitar licks, all of which fell beneath the steel blanket of tremendous bass and drum work. During “Fall of the Angry Clowns”—the band’s best semblance of a single—drummer Chris Metcalf struggled to keep his glasses on between crushing tom thuds.

When not employing their brand of understated space rock, which is seemingly better fit for crowded concert halls than half-full bar rooms, The Life and Times was gracious, if anything. Beyond the occasional “thank you,” or request that people buy the openers’ merchandise instead of theirs, the band kept quiet. Endearingly so, the band—in the same way it can send listeners deep into space with only a collection of self-recorded basement songs—seemed to play a polite possum, letting their music to do the strutting for them.

Photo by Kevin Kosterman

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