Neva Dinova took the stage to an enthusiastic reaction from the crowd, as lead singer Jake Bellows remarked, “You won’t be cheering after you hear this music.” He couldn’t have been more right.
The trembling notes and languidly strummed guitars set the tone for an overture of songs that, while not exactly grin-worthy, was the perfect accompaniment for the tippling of a handful of Jack and Cokes. It was pitch-perfect wallow music, with downtrodden lyrics and wailing, sorrowful riffs.
Neva Dinova’s high point came when they launched into “Poison,” a gorgeously broken paean from their recent Bright Eyes split, One Jug of Wine, Two Vessels. They played a dozen or so other masterpieces, enchanting and depressing the crowd with their fractured guitar jangles and plodding drum codas.
When they finally cleared their broken dreams from the stage, it was Good Life time. Anyone familiar with Tim Kasher from his work with Cursive might be surprised to hear the comparatively upbeat tempos and keyboard flourishes. The glossy pep, though, belies the stumbling pathos behind Kasher’s songwriting. The Good Life’s textured rhythms underscore Kasher’s biting laments on love and isolation, focusing on the subtle interplay between the two.
When The Good Life broke into songs from their recent opus Album of the Year, the audience swayed and widespread introspection made way for group catharsis. While Kasher’s other band may get most of the critical kudos, there were plenty of fans on hand at the Troubadour who were all too happy to live the Good Life. Well, maybe not happy, but you get the idea.