These United States In This City


  • photo by Shervin Lainez
A few years ago, on the advice of a local musician, I went to The Bouquet to see a band from Rhode Island that I'd never heard of. All of 12 other people had the same idea that weeknight, and the 13 of us were treated to the crazy antics and skilled musicianship of East Coast psychobilly band, Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys.

The next time Sasquatch played The Bouquet, more than two dozen of us were there to see them. The third time, the place was packed. Since then, I've hypothesized that a band has to play Boise at least three times before people here start to catch on.

That, however, does not always happen. I've been to shows in which the band has never even been to Boise before, but a buzz precedes them (think Vampire Weekend), and whatever venue is lucky enough to be hosting them is stuffed to the rafters with fans.

And on the flip side, I've also been to shows—Sunday night's performance by These United States for example, who have been to town three or four times—in which I was, once again, one of maybe 20 attendees (though I think that's a generous estimation).

I've scrapped my hypothesis.

It's hard to say who or what will bring out a few people or a roaring crowd. But everyone who goes out gets something. What I got for going out on a Sunday night was twofold: one of the best live shows I've ever seen, and an intimate show that felt kind of like it was just for me (and the other 19 people who were there). Plus, they played their brand new release What Lasts from start to finish, something TUS frontman Jesse Elliott said they hadn't done live yet.

When some bands say they don't care if they play in front of four people or 4,000, they just want to play, it's true. After the show, Elliott told me, "I'd rather play a show in front of 20 people where 19 of them are paying attention than for thousands who aren't." Elliott made a point of engaging the small crowd throughout the night, and rather than act disappointed at a not-well-attended show, everyone in the band played like we were a crowd of thousands, all paying attention.

When TUS comes through town next time, go. Or don't. They'll play for me as if you were all there.