Classic Clips: Lambchop “Give It” – XX Merge Festival, 2009

There seem to be two lines of thinking (with a few sub-lines between them) about what the concept of Americana music should be. One sees it as a combination of all types of roots music with a bit of rock here and there. The other seems to go with as long as there is one roots element there you can throw almost anything else in (kitchen sink included). Whichever concept you agree with, there should certainly be one consistent element – it should be good.

Throughout their career so far, Kurt Wagner and Lambchop seem to have abided by the second concept. Their brand can certainly be labelled as Americana, but there’s always been something else there, from soul to modified guitar sounds to complete electronic modification of sound. At the same time, Lambchop and Wagner were always both incredible and unpredictable live performers. Whenever they interpreted one of their or somebody else’s song, it was close to the studio performance, but always included a twist.

No exception here, with the live version of ‘Give It’ from 2009’s XX Merge festival. The original actually appeared on the ‘Lambchop Box’ from 2010. What is not exactly the perfect live recording that starts out slowly, it then picks up the pace, turning into a rollicking performance with guitars going in all directions and Wagner giving his usual vocal best. No wonder they decided to use it to close their set.

Classic, no matter what.

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Mike O'Driscoll

Kurt Wagner is out there in a world of his own.