The Choir is a band that I wish I had been more into when I was in high school and college. I was definitely aware of the band, I had the At The Foot of The Cross cassette and I can remember hearing “About Love” on the radio, but for whatever reason I never paid much attention to them. I even remember being invited to see them in concert on the “farewell” tour in 1996 and I passed because of some lame reason (almost certainly, “to study”.) So I’m a little thankful that since they have “stopped touring” I’ve seen the band five times in concert and bought three new CD’s from the band. At Cornerstone Festival in 2001 they released a boxed set with all of their albums up to that point and I snapped it up. Boom. I had caught up just like that and voraciously listened to them in the months afterwards. Indeed, their latest release at the time, Flap Your Wings was a comfort in the post-September 11 days with songs like “Sunny” and “Flowing Over Me”
One of the things I love most about The Choir is the delightfully odd combination of band members. There’s Steve Hindalong, the quirkly lyricist who slips in mouthfuls like “Saskatoon Lnyx” and “Chase The Kangaroo” into songs while he alternates between metronome-like precision and off-kilter swing on the drums. There’s Derri Daughtery, the demurring front-man who sings effortlessly all of Hindalong’s complex words. There’s Tim Chandler, the massive man that was so in-demand as a bass guitar player in the 80′s and 90′s that he often was in two or three bands. There’s Dan Micheals, a combination of an anachronism from the 80′s on saxophone and also part of the source of the band’s signature sound with eerie electronic woodwind sounds from the lyricon.
Touring for the first time since 2005 (long after they said they were finished touring back in 1996.), the band came to the small venue in Dallas, Georgia where I saw the 77′s just a couple weeks ago. The band is celebrating the 25th anniversary of their album Chase The Kangaroo, an album that in my opinion was where the found their signature sound. The concert was billed as an “acoustic show” reinterpreting the album, but it turned out it was not that all. With Tim Chandler and Dan Michaels as suprise additions, they played the album straight through with only small variations from the album. Some of the songs like “Consider”, “Sad Face”, and “Chase The Kangaroo” have long been concert staples and they ripped through those songs with ease. The deeper cuts hadn’t been played in decades, or at all (Daugherty quipped that he couldn’t wait to read someone on Facebook post “and it shows”) but I really liked hearing “The Rifleman” in particular. After running through the album, they played a cut from their new album The Loudest Sound Ever Heard which is about to release. I was hoping they would play more from the new album, but that was the only song for the night. That was my only disappointment for the show, but they played it a little safe by sticking to some of their classics to wrap up the show. The upside though, was that the band sounded really tight and rehearsed and I really enjoyed seeing the band play with such confidence. For a band that everyone assumed ended almost 15 years ago, the band is enjoying a nice little revival with three albums now in the last two years and an actual tour.