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LIVE REVIEWS: The Holy City Cold Heart Revival

Sat. Nov. 15, The Pour House

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The Holy City Cold Heart Revival
Sat. Nov. 15
The Pour House

"I think I'm going to break a string before it's all over with!" Cary Ann Hearst exclaimed at Saturday night's Holy City Cold Heart Revival. This was on an acoustic guitar, mind you. You'd have to be strumming your heart out to break a string on an acoustic guitar, and chances are you're having a hell of a good time doing it. And it seemed that Shovels and Rope — Hearst's duo with Michael Trent — was doing exactly that.

On a cold and drizzly night, the feeling was contagious. The bands were excited. The crowd was buzzing in time and in tune. With all eight acts playing their hearts out, it's a minor miracle that guitar strings weren't snapping all over the place during the seven-hour show.

Lindsay Holler and friends amassed a variety of alt-country talent for the Revival. After last year's stellar performances by Caitlyn Cary (formerly of the late-'90s band Whiskeytown), et al, expectations were high for this year's lineup.

Main stage sets by N.C. band American Aquarium and locals Kentucky Shoes were staggered with sets by Quasiphonics, Harrison Ray, and Mac Leaphart (and guests) on the venue's outside deck. Though quieter and slower-paced than most of the other acts, Kentucky Shoes kept the crowd's attention. Their soulful "Calmly Quietly Cruelly," with Hearst and Holler sitting in on background vocals, enamored as always.

Justin Townes Earle, a roguish and charming sort, proved to be the natural showman one might expect with his lineage. With cohort Cory Younts switching up on mandolin, banjo, and harmonica, the duo squeezed plenty of crowd-pleasing music out of a fairly old-school repertoire of originals and choice covers, including his namesake Townes Van Zandt's "Mr. Mudd & Mr. Gold." One unexpected highlight was a subdued rendition of the Replacement's "Can't Hardly Wait."

Holler's Western Polaroids — a group unafraid of experimentation with song arrangements — concluded the night. They adeptly took her songs in new directions. Set-closer "Keep Bleeding," a fan-favorite, remains a heart-wrenching and reviving classic. —John Edward Royall

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