Philadelphia's Strand of Oaks has been touring in support of the Tallest Man on Earth for a year. Frontman and principle songwriter Tim Showalter has a powerful voice, reserved for the sweeter moments of the set. We learned that Strand of Oaks drummer Chris Ward was schooled in the art of hip-hop and proved to be an excellent partner in crime to Showalter's echoey vocals and swelling guitar tones. It was a lovely opening to a memorable evening.
Kristian Matsson, known as the Tallest Man on Earth, is among the very best exports from Sweden since Abba and Absolute Vodka. Matsson's small army of guitars proved that all the talk of his inventive use of tunings is true. These quirky tunings paired with his high capo placements and rootsy strumming to create a joyful angst to accompany his haunting lyrics of places and lovers.
This particular set of songs was indeed a crowd pleaser, beginning with a longing for identity in "King of Spain" and bidding a crowd coaxing adieu with Paul Simon's "Graceland." A seated show cannot break the will of an inspired crowd, after all. Folks rushed the floor for one last hurrah.
All photos by Abby Gillardi.