The Evens played an hour-long set at Spark, a small gallery/venue in Syracuse, New York. The event was sold out and the venue, with no windows and few fans, was a sweat box. Despite the physical discomfort of the surroundings, the band turned in an excellent performance and the audience was happy to be there and sing along with the band.
The Evens are Ian MacKaye, formerly of Minor Threat and Fugazi, playing baritone guitar and Amy Farina, formerly of The Warmers, on drums. Both musicians also sing. When the band first took the stage — a space cleared at one end of the gallery — Ian asked the audience to sit. We all shuffled down to the floor, then he urged us to sing along with the band, often teasing audience members who didn't by calling them "too cool" to sing. So, sing we did — heck; I was going to anyway, music-lovin' nerd girl that I am. As he played, he looked at each audience member, holding that person's gaze for as long as that person felt comfortable. It was the most intimate performance I've had the opportunity to attend.
The band played a mix of songs from both of their Dischord releases. These songs are punk in the sense of well-played, finely crafted political music that is not intended for commercial appeal. The music is quieter than that of the earlier bands of both musicians. Ian offered commentary on many of the songs and advised us of the refrains of some of them so we could belt them out with him (those who didn't have the lyrics of both CDs committed to heart yet). As can be expected from the resume of these musicians, many of lyrics had strong political content.
The band is currently home from their recent tour, but when The Evens tour again, you should make a point to catch their show. You can subscribe to tour updates at the Dischord website.