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The Lowdown:

The David Wax Museum

Greg Glassman (bass/percussion/guitar/vocals), Suz Slezak (fiddle/quijada de burro/accordion/vocals), David Wax (vocals/guitar/jarana)

Based In:
Boston, Massachusetts


Americana, Mexo-Americana, folk, indie rock


The Auricle, Canton, Ohio

Concert Date:
February 4, 2013

Opening Acts:
Austin Wolfe, Bromodo, The Sugarcreek Acoustic Duo


Related Articles:

David Wax Museum performs at The Auricle



February 12, 2013


David Wax Museum: The Auricle, 2/4/13

by Jason D. 'Diesel' Hamad


The David Wax Museum performs live at The Auricle in Canton, Ohio on February 4, 2013. (l-r) Greg Glassman, David Wax, Suz Slezak. Photo by Jason D. 'Diesel' Hamad / No Surf Music.


Amazingly enough, this is the first David Wax Museum headlining show No Surf has ever officially covered. But don't let that fool you we love 'em and these guys put on some of the best live shows you'll ever see. Photo by Jason D. 'Diesel' Hamad / No Surf Music.

I hate hipsters. And I love free food. So it was bittersweet when these two emotional triggers intersected last week at the Auricle in Canton, Ohio, a town into which I would scarcely venture to see a band any less talented than the David Wax Museum. I was originally going to cover the group’s appearance opening for Tift Merritt at the Beachland Ballroom the next day, but decided to double up in order to fit a many-times-postponed Burning River Fireside Chat into their always busy schedule. So snowstorm and all I headed south to navigate downtown Canton’s maze of one-way streets.

Canton, you see, is just kinda a depressing place, one of those Rustbelt towns that has yet to hit the upswing of recovery. Even the denizens of Detroit, when they are feeling at their worst, comfort themselves by saying, “Well, at least I don’t live in Canton.” But it turns out the city has a surprisingly good music venue in the Auricle. Making a perfect shelter from the weather in a basement off Cleveland Avenue, it has a bit of a dive bar feel, but a dive bar that recently reupholstered all the stools and bought some cheap, tacky, industrial-style new carpet. Brick columns jut out of the floor in front of the stage and into the low ceiling that gives the room its great acoustics. The neon-lit bar at the back houses a decent—though not exceptional—selection of beers and spirits, but as long as they stock PBR tallboys, it’s good enough.

I arrived half an hour before the show, delayed slightly by the idiots driving 35 and blocking up three lanes on the interstate, only to find Suz Slezak back in the green room cooking happily on the band’s new hotplate, which she continued to do as the interview started, she and David taking turns stirring while the other answered questions. By the time we were done talking and she’d dished out plates for everyone, myself included, the first act had taken the stage, and so we slipped back into the darkened bar to listen and munch.

The Sugarcreek Acoustic Duo, as the first act so descriptively named themselves, performed a range of covers from classic rock to 90’s pop folk to modern Americana, all with a stripped-down unplugged vibe. The male part of the duo looked like a cross between Steve Earle and Peter Yarrow, while his female counterpart resembled a cross between Mama Cass in a knit and… well, just Mama Cass. With selections from the likes of the Civil Wars, Fleetwood Mac and that poppy little Christian band Sixpence None the Richer, they acquitted themselves nicely and their set was very entertaining.

Next up was local group Bromodo, a jam band with shades of 90’s alternative rock. Sometimes loud, often dreamy, relaxed one moment, pulse pounding the next, they featured a lead singer reminiscent of a redheaded Bob Dylan, vocally anyway. Not that his hair sang… well, you get what I mean. There was nothing wrong with their performance; I just wasn’t super into it, and they felt a little out of place on an otherwise more acoustically minded bill.

The penultimate selection was another local, Austin Wolfe and his Wolfepack. Actually, I’m not sure if the pack contains the extra “e” or not, nor am I sure which would be hokier (although since I was there to see a band called the David Wax Museum, what do I know from hokie?). In addition to several new faces, Wolfe’s backup band seemed to include most of the members of Bromodo on an ad hoc, occasionally rotating basis. They played a pretty exciting set with an interesting indie rock blend featuring both acoustic and electric guitars and a rich, unique sound owing to the use of instrumentation such as trumpet and glockenspiel. This made them a much more appropriate opener for the eclectic act that followed. Their full, somewhat poppy sound was often haunting and ethereal, like a festival band on cruise control in the 25th minute of a long-form jam, but then would explode into lively rock riffs like a second wind blowing through the bar. They were entertaining enough, in fact, that I would mark Mr. Wolfe as one to watch on the local indie scene. I’m not saying I’d necessarily go to Canton to see them again, but I’d definitely see them again somewhere.

Finally, it came time for DWM to take the stage. The band has often toured with various arrangements, but has made an attempt after the release of their latest album Knock Knock Get Up to reconstitute their touring lineup into a semi-permanent quartet more fit for the indie-rock influenced sound of that release. Their drummer, however, was set to join them later on in the tour, leaving a three-person grouping based around David Wax on guitar and jarana, Suz Slezak on fiddle, quijada de burro and occasional accordion, and Greg Glassman recently converted from upright to electric base and throwing a little bit of guitar and percussion played on a plain old wooden box into the mix just for good measure.

Now, another thing that should be noted is that the band often completely changes up their shows based on the vibe of the crowd. I’ve seen them come out and kick a set in the ass so hard that the audience didn’t come down for weeks, only to see them play the same room a couple months later like Nurse Ratched had warned them not to disturb the cuckoos. It all depends on their read of the audience. With Wax donning an almost-respectable suit jacket—he said in order to keep up with the always-fashionable Ms. Slezak (as if that were possible… Suz could punch some armholes in a garbage bag and wear that up on stage and she’d still be the classiest gal in the room)—this was one of their more sedate sets, but still quite impressive. It was also the first I’d heard of the band since the September release their fourth album, Knock Knock Get Up. Given the many-layered style adopted on these recordings, I was quite interested to hear how such tracks would translate on stage. The several songs I had heard in previous concerts had been performed much more like their usual live fare than their studio incarnations—something that makes sense given the constrictions of limited personnel—and in most cases, this remained true.

Whether it's a firebrand show or a more mellow one, it's hard not to lively up yourself when David's strumming the jarana and Suz is banging away at the quijada.

The first song, for instance, was “The Rumors Are True,” a philosophical kind of breakup song. A lively track on the album, here it was performed in a slow, toned down—in fact almost glacial—incarnation. This was counterbalanced by a jumping version of Everything Is Saved’s “Yes, Maria, Yes,” given a bit of a Caribbean flair thanks to Greg’s quick-beaten drumming. This was followed up by a cool jive take on “Leopard Girl,” much different from the more high-energy live renditions I’d heard before the album’s release. Then it was time for “Wondrous Love,” the first song on which Suz sang lead for one of the band’s studio albums.

And this brings us to why I hate hipsters.

Now the bar may have been quite a decent place, but most of those in the audience… well, not so much. With so many local bands on the bill, it seemed that many of them came to support their friends and once their set was done were more interested in talking amongst themselves about whatever pretentious idiocies were on their mind, thus completely missing out on the high-quality music being presented to them. It reminded me of the time I went to Miss America… once the girl from Idaho got knocked out in the first five minutes, there wasn’t much to do but get drunk and throw stuff at the Texas contingent. I mean when Suz Slezak—quite possibly the sweetest human being alive on the planet today—actually has to shush you from the stage, you know you’re an asshole. Although the thing about hipsters is that they’re all assholes all the time and they never know it.

Still for those who were intent upon the music, Suz’s performance of the song was both succulent and sultry, like a chocolate-covered pretzel with its perfect combination of sugary and salty flavors. This merged right into the already mellow and down tempo “The Least I Can Do,” with Suz’s sweet sawing on the fiddle setting the pace. New offering “Vivian” was also slower than usual, and again seemed to display a bit of a Caribbean spice, this time due to David’s jarana and Suz’s accordion.

Amazingly, the band then became even more intimate, performing David’s spiritual, “Let Me Rest,” as a three-part harmony piece, a capella except for Suz’s fiddle. Despite my lack of religious conviction, this has always been a favorite tune and this particular version was absolute perfection.

DWM always performs at least one song unplugged from within the audience, but this show that seemed like ALL they wanted to do. Talk about intimacy.

The mellow vibe continued with Greg taking the lead on the street-corner doo wop tune “Got a Letter To Send,” and was then multiplied as the band abandoned their microphones entirely, moved into the crowd in front of the stage to perform the acoustic “Guacmaya” (like most gringos my Spanish ain’t so good, but I think I got that right… if not, I’m sure David’ll yell at me).

Nearing the end of the set, they finally lit a fire under their feet with the über catchy toe-tapper “Born With a Broken Heart,” Suz gleefully squeezing her accordion and Greg pounding out pure awesomeness on the drums. Finally, they closed with Knock Knock’s addictive song, “Harder Before It Gets Easier.” It had a sparser sound than the album version but was done amazingly well with the vocal harmonies between Suz and David just perfect. Even the dumbass hipsters were paying attention by then.

Opting for intimacy in their encore rather than going for a big finish, the band returned to the front of the stage to perform an acoustic version of “Big Heart of Yours.” Called back one more time, they delivered the night’s coup de grace by going old school with a stick-bangin’ jam version of Carpenter Bird’s “Colas.”

I must admit that I prefer the stage-stomping, rollicking version of David Wax Museum to their more sedate incarnation. That said, even in these more relaxed performances their musicianship is unimpeachable and every song engaging. Hell, I’d go see them the very next day if I could… which is exactly what I did.

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For a taste of David Wax Museum, buy Knock Knock Get Up on Amazon!
mp3 cd


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