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Live from the living room

What do you get when you put a handful of talented, good-looking, musical individuals in a room? The production of really, really great music.

I know that’s really corny and I could do better. But seriously, the Red Lions are wonderful. The 5-piece has the whole package: they work well together, they noticeably have fun on and off stage, their carefully constructed sound varies from song to song and they have an alluring presence that draws you in and makes you feel welcome. It’s feel-good music that you can dance to, drive to, shower to and enjoy with your friends. But it’s also not totally “safe” and the band gets experimental at times and branches out in many different places in the indie rock rhizome.

Photo © Patrick Dodson

Last night, they played a “secret” show in lead singer and guitarist Eric Margan’s living room. The band literally invited us into their home and we merrily received a glimpse of their creative, quaint and timeless world in return. Music equipment was set up over vintage floral rugs and a string of bright, circular white bulbs were draped from the ceiling. Caroline Corrigan and her friends made miniature cupcakes and various wine spritzers and sangria served out of a glass carafe. I immediately felt underdressed amongst the classy, friendly crowd that gathered.

Michael Tash, who performs under moniker Orphan Legs, started the night off opening for the Red Lions. Orphan Legs is his latest project and it is simply a man and his guitar. Tash is passionate about his craft and his songs are just like the man himself; storytelling tunes with a lot of heart behind them. He’ll be the first to joke that his songs are inspired by a divorce, his cat or drugs, but they really are delicious dives into relationships, a man’s travels and whatever other realm of mystery. His voice is beautiful and I think we all appreciate what he is doing.

Following Orphan Legs was the appreciative, hosting band, The Red Lions, who played a very intimate set for an intimate crowd. The laid back show progressed just as smoothly as if it was at a real venue, and the pouring rain outside made for a nice atmospheric touch to their performance.

The Red Lions have existed in some form since 2007 and have been consistently creating and performing music ever since. Last night made me realize just how much material they have. They literally could have played for 3x as long and I would have enjoyed every moment. Members of the Red Lions swap instruments with each song and it’s interesting to see who will do what next.

They treated us to their most recent creation, “So Long,” which I also had the pleasure of playing during KAB’s weekly radio show on WCDB. Other highlights from their set included “Call Me By My True Name,” which had people singing and swaying along, as well as “White Butterfly,” “A Quiet Day,” and “Roses and Tulips.” They also covered “The Only Living Boy In New York,” and capped off with a special request from Tash to play “Bay of Naples,” off of their debut studio album Midnight Book.

The music of the Red Lions, who also hail from Albany, is hard to describe. Labeling it as “indie rock” certainly does not do the band justice at all. It’s much more than that. Have a listen for yourself. They are recording a new album that should be finished by the fall months and also have an upcoming show at St. Joe’s church for this year’s Restoration Festival, alongside national acts Deer Tick, Titus Andronicus, The Music Tapes and A Hawk & A Hacksaw, as well as a handful of other local acts.

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