The Gutter Twins: Live at the TLA

The Gutter Twins
Theater of Living Arts
Philadelphia, PA

Photo by Sam Holden

Weather related traffic was part of the reason. Needing some dinner before the show was another. And then there was the task of actually navigating South Street in its torn up and tire shredding condition. When all was said and done, my friends and I arrived at the TLA in time to hear the last two songs from the opening band, Afterhours. Clear Dixies of amber firmly in our palms, we watched the opener and remained unimpressed. The fact that they sang in Italian somehow made them intolerable in that “we should sound like Dashboard Confessional so the American girls want to lay us” kind of way. Traffic, for once, wound up a blessing.

When The Gutter Twins took the stage, it was all applause amongst the maybe sixty of us standing around. Red overhead lights stuck to Greg Dulli, who took banter duty, (at one point he told us all, “I am happy. And I won $500 on the Phillies, motherfucker!”), and looked like a coke bloated Matthew Perry. Mark Lanegan remained lit from the back, obscuring his face by shadow, though here and there you could make out the deep ocular canyons that hold his world-weary eyes in place. With the lights changing colors and shimmering against his silhouette, he was like a Q-Tip of another color standing firmly with his mic stand, hands unmoving.

The band was very good, revving even their slowest songs into loud and impassioned heights. Lanegan, somehow engaging in the face of his seeming disinterest with the audience, boomed his throaty low end amidst the band’s fury and despite Dulli’s insistence on sounding louder. Coupled with a loud backup vocalist, Dulli seemed at points set on enveloping Lanegan’s vocal in his overdone falsetto but Lanegan is an unsettling and charismatic presence. No movement, no face for most of the set, Mark Lanegan was the star.

They did an excellent rendition of “Seven Stories Underground” and “Idle Hands.” They also pulled “Hit The City” and “Methamphetamine Blues” from Lanegan’s Bubblegum album, which were really cool to hear live. And, they reveled in a little nostalgia, throwing together a block of Afghan Whigs and Screaming Trees songs. I was hoping not to hear the annoying “Front Street,” but it wound up being an overblown part of the show, Dulli playing Tom Jones, walking to the edge of the stage holding his microphone like a Dean Martin-i.

Lanegan, not one for goodbyes, goodnights, or “go fuck yourself’s,” exited stage right without a word. Cold shoulders like his would suggest the possible absence of an encore, but the Twins came through with a decent set. Lanegan walked off a second time without a word to the audience, and the audience exited without much of a reaction.

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