Following a weekend of really bad weather in Eastern Iowa, I wasn’t sure whether we were going to see this show. As I posted earler, Allen from Six Parts Seven had reached out to let me know that they were playing in the area as part of a tour they were doing opening and backing Merge artist Richard Buckner.
After a good dinner at the Atlas World Grille we made our way over to the Picador in time for the 9PM doors. This was the first time I’d been to the Picador since its transformation from the long-standing Gabe’s. Due to the previous “Early/All-Ages” show running long, the show we came to see would start late so we hung out downstairs in the bar waiting for the doors to open.
Once we got upstairs, we met Allen Karpinski who is the lead guitarist for the group and principle composer/arranger. I had been exchanging PM’s with him on myspace leading up to the show. He seemed genuinely happy to see us at the show and we talked about the tour progress so far and he said that his brother Jay who was the drummer had dropped out of the tour over a disagreement. So the band was continuing the tour without him and other members of the touring band were filling in on drums. The topic turned to gear with my friend Erik who builds guitar amps. Allen had an effects pedal that was made for him by a friend that stopped working. Erik offered to take it home and look it over to see if he could fix it.
I hadn’t been here since some time in the late 90’s– I think it was the Evan Dando solo show with Epic Soundtracks (R.I.P.). At that time the room had a bunch of tables and chairs. Apparently they only have two or three tables and chairs which was a bummer because as much as I like standing for shows, I like to sit– and certainly my wife would have prefered to have the option.
First up was Six Parts Seven doing a five-song 20-minute or so set. I was disappointed because I would have liked to hear more songs from them as they were the reason I was here. Apparently, though the small crowd was there to see Buckner.
As expected, they played a mellow impassioned set. The members focused on playing the songs. The crowd was small and it seemed like we were watching a band practice! From time-to-time someone would take on the drum role– sometimes mid-song. The songs took on a new feel and perspective compared to the album versions of the songs.
One thing I noticed was that Allen was playing a capoed bass guitar. You can see that in the picture above. This explains the “mid-range bass” credit in the liner notes of Casually Smashed to Pieces. Between the Six Parts Seven set and Richard Buckner’s I got a chance to catch up with Allen again and asked him about it. He said that he is actually playing lighter gauge strings in addition to the capo. I suggested that he could be playing a Bass VI. He said that the tone would be different.
Allen also gave me the setlist that was played that night: “Conversation Heart,” “Stolen Moments,” “Awaiting Elemental Meltdown,” “Night Behind the Stars,” and “Knock At My Door.”
After the break Buckner somewhat unexpectedly showed up on the stage and started playing some songs solo. The guys in Six Parts Seven hung out in the crowd watching the show like everyone else. After four or five songs they joined Buckner on stage.
The Buckner set was comprised of mostly recent songs from the fantastic Meadow release and the prior two albums. I wasn’t as familar with his songs, but I knew the Meadow songs pretty well as I had been listening to it very regularly leading up to the show. My favorites were the more uptempo songs like “Town” and “Lucky” and benefitted quite a bit from having a full band behind him. The drum beats were more straightforward 4/4-type so the stand-in drumming worked pretty well.
It was pretty obvious to me that Six Parts Seven was pretty nervous on a couple of songs– especially when it required a switch-up of the drummer. But, they held it together and there were definately moments of brilliance. My friend Erik and a buddy from his work Shawn were very impressed with the Buckner songs and planned to pick the new release up.
Buckner evidently plays a lot of shows solo. He was using sampling pedals to play over himself– sort of like Keller Williams. This was an interesting aspect to his sets. Sometimes it worked really well, other times I felt like it was a distraction. Buckner doesn’t say a lot in his set either and seemed to fill the between song gaps with his sampler pedal.
Looking back on the show, I really am pretty happy I made it out to see them. The show was very intimate and that allowed Six Parts Seven to showcase their strengths in dynamics. I would like to see Six Parts Seven headlining a show or at least get more than twenty minutes of them. I’d consider seeing Buckner again, too.