Saturday night saw two bands taking the stage at Ignition Music in Goshen, Ind. Headlining the show was The Lawsuits who hail from that most American of big cities, Philadelphia. The Lawsuits specialize in a lilting style of folk-rock with sweetly harmonized male-female vocals and occasional keyboard flourishes. But that may be an oversimplification of the band's sound. In truth, they range from folk and rock to gospel and R&B, with some funk and reggae thrown in for good measure. Opening for them was regional act Michael Howard Doty and the YOTH Band.
Doty and YOTH opened things up at 7:30 sharp. It was a little distracting that their bass player bore a striking resemblance to Judah Friedlander, right down to the trucker hat. But while that was never addressed, Doty's music fit in well with The Lawsuits', being sort of sweetly soulful in the vein of Elliot Smith. At one point, he name checked the band Wilco, a band whom his music also resembles.
For their part, The Lawsuits played onstage for the better part of two hours with a two-song encore. Their set resembled something familiar with songs starting off slowly, then building tension towards a crescendo and release at the end. Along the way, they hit on some of their better-known songs such as "(Darla Nye) Never Love Someone" "Do Ya" as well as a striking cover of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain." While bursts of noise and guitar breakdowns aren't what the band is known for, they treated the audience to some noisy guitar james late in the set.
Their musicianship was clearly accomplished and the intraband rapport was obvious as all of their music came across fluid and organic, no matter what kind of genre-hopping they were engaged in. Overall, they created a club-like atmosphere of accomplished, intimate and soulful indie rock at the venue. The band has gone on record saying that they shirk traditional genre rules and go wherever their music takes them. While they may break from tradition in terms of genre boundaries, there's a decidedly familiar and retro feel to their sound, and they shift easily from one style of music to the next. Not overtly confrontational or aggressively complex, the band is nonetheless post-modern in their approach, freely quoting from whichever genre they please. While 20 years ago that may have seemed revolutionary, in 2017 it shouldn't strike anyone as odd, and the styles of music they choose to play are warm and familiar; a skillfully delivered musical equivalent of comfort food.