One for Friday: Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, “Bag of Hammers”


I’ve got a strange, new concert-going tradition, inadvertent and entirely out of my hands. For the past couple of years, I’ve had multiple instances where I’ve seen shows that fall into the category of long-awaited. In all of those instances, I stood in the crowd with a single song in mind. I wasn’t some agonized hipster, pining for a minor obscurity unlikely to be played. In every instance, it was a single, or at least a track that was pushed as such. In no instance was it some deal-breaking tragedy if it didn’t get played, but I stood ready for it nonetheless. As might be wholly expected by any who’ve ready the tragic tale up to this point, the songs in question were never played.

The latest example took place last week, when I went to Madison’s Majestic Theater, once home to some of my most vital experiences as a film fan, in order to see Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. I’ve previously expounded on the pleasures to be found in the recorded efforts of Thao Nguyen’s band, but I’d never previously had the opportunity to see one of their well-regarded live shows. It was as fantastic as I’d hoped, comparable to St. Vincent in terms of taking what was familiar and turning up the intensity. And Nguyen is a wildly charismatic presence on stage. And we got to see her rightly vaunted cover of Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On,” so all was good.

And yet (there’s always an “and yet,” right?), I will admit to holding a title in my head that is attached to a song that never arrived on the set list. It was probably the first song I heard from Nguyen and her backing band that made me halt and really listen. It is a song that I shared with others, always stirring up an excited interest. It is a song that is dependable and fiercely good. I would have liked to have heard it. It’s okay that I didn’t. I take a bemused pleasure in this new trend of mine. And, hey, there’s always next time.

Listen or download –> Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, “Bag of Hammers”

(Disclaimer: Not only can the album that holds the song shared above still be purchased as a physical item, it can also be procured straight from Bandcamp for a very modest sum, presumably giving the artist an even more substantial cut of the take than a CD would. Please do consider this shared track an encouragement and an enticement to support Nguyen and her band. Besides this album, I can strongly recommend the last two, as the links above indicated. The 2013 album, We the Common, is especially good. Ask for it by name at your favorite local, independently-owned record store. In short, I mean to cause no fiscal harm to the artist in sharing this track. I will gladly and promptly remove the music file in question from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any entity or organization with due authority to make such a request.)

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