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In The Flesh

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“These people sitting down here in the front must really trust us that we’re not going to jump on them,” said Blanche frontman Dan Miller from the stage of Silverlake hipster venue Spaceland. His deadpan joke was that there’s very little jumping at a Blanche show, especially this one, which capped the Detroit quintet’s monthlong nationwide tour with headliners the Ditty Bops. Live, Blanche more teeters and staggers than jumps. Nick Cave once commented that he wears tailored suits made from cheap material to give the impression of a man whose ambitions are just beyond his abilities, and live Blanche is a carpetbag full of Cave’s suits. Lisa Jannon’s church-time drumming and Greenhorne Jack Lawrence’s banjo and autoharp made the band a kind of impressionist dervish of vintage country signifiers as Dan and Tracee Miller picked and plodded their way through their quietly darkening tales of lopsided affections (“Do You Trust Me?”) and happy self-delusion (“Who’s To Say?”). New songs such as “This Town” — where Tracee handed off her bass to Lawrence and concentrated on singing — hinted at a more confident Blanche to come. The band’s country-dirge cover of Gun Club’s “Jack On Fire” — where Tracee takes the final “and I will fuck you till you die” verse — was a fitting third act for the Miller’s cat-and-mouse vocal trade-offs. Most surprising, however was their finale of “Someday ...” — Tracee manned the drums, Jannon came centerstage armed with an acoustic guitar and glared straight into the crowd, while Dave Feeny, the quiet lap-steel hero of the night, suddenly burst into a crazed sermon-like vocal to the stunned crowd. He even took a stage-dive into the audience before returning to end the set. Part theater, part gimmick, but for finally getting those Spaceland floor-sitters (maybe 75) on their feet, Blanche was utterly effective.

Hobey Echlin is a freelance writer. Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

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