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ARTS+CULTURE

Montana Kaimin Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NIGHT LIFE

Leave your irony at home... Christopher Allen Montana Kaimin On the wooden floor of the Missoula VFW hall, where a pool table stood only two hours before, there’s a circle of restless but friendly listeners gathered around musician Jason Anderson. He begins the second part of his set cross-legged, sporting some beat-up kicks, a red-and-black flannel and an earnest smile. The sound from his guitar is soft but clear despite the clumsy clack of a toilet seat from a nearby bathroom. “I wrote this song for a girl I used to date. She was from Libby, Montana,” he tells the small but diverse Missoula crowd. “I wonder if she’s here?” he says as he scans the bar without a hint of irony. If this level of over-the-top earnestness sounds like too much for your cynical sensibilities, then Monday’s openmic night at the VFW probably wasn’t for you. But whatever Anderson lacked in subtlety, he tried like hell to make up for in soulfulness. Before Anderson strikes his first chord, he jumps on a rickety bar chair, foot stamping, encouraging the distracted crowd

to come in close. He wants to affect you. As he sings, he’s constantly looking to make eye contact with someone in the audience. He’s not afraid to just stare. And just when you think things are getting too awkward, he turns away with a nod, as if you’ve just had a telepathic conversation, and he’s very satisfied with the results. The songs are mostly straightforward, singer-songwriter pieces, with steady guitar-picking and pleasing, but familiar chord progressions. His lyrics range from relatable confessions of doubt and commercial disgust, to the almost unbearable sincerity of life-or-death promises made on the top of Ferris wheels. People who write songs like these don’t have girlfriends; they have lovers. With irony-withering lyrics like “This is happening. This is happening right now,” and “Does this overwhelm you like it’s overwhelming me?” Anderson conjures images that hopeless bedroom dreamers can relate to. Monday’s impassioned performance was part of his 57day autumn tour in support of his latest album “Summer

Sincerely, Jason Anderson

Courtesy of K Records

Styles.” The tour began in New York on Sept. 11 and continues until Nov. 16. Since signing with K Records in the late ‘90s, the prolific multi-instrumentalist released seven albums under the moniker “Wolf Colonel,” three more as Jason Anderson and contributed to the projects of other K Records artists, including Phil Elverum of The Microphones and Mount Eerie.

Anderson would often record his albums in only a few days, refusing to the leave the studio until they were complete. Anderson has also self-released two other recordings on his website, including his latest full-length “Summer Styles.” His Facebook page is filled with his positive reflections on the crowds and venues like “breathtaking” and “impossi-

ble to describe.” Some he wrote in all-caps: “INDESCRIBABLY FEELINGS IN MADISON.” Before the night is over, Anderson shares the floor with some locals who add some back-up guitar and violin. During his song “Greenpoint,” he refrains, “I want to know that I tried tonight.” No one could ever accuse Anderson of mailing it in. christopher.allen@umontana.edu

Jason Anderson Review - Oct. 17, 2012  
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