The Lowdowners

October 10, 2008
Spike Hill
Williamsburg, Brooklyn

The Lowdowners played a commendable show this Saturday night at Williamsburg's ambiance driven Spike Hill. Spike Hill is a rare venue that fosters and showcases live musical talent every night of the week at no cover. The Lowdowners were, in this post punk, emo driven indie rock world, a refreshing throw back to Allman Brothers, or even Tom Petty, with a country meets new age Brooklyn rockabilly sound. Their lyrics followed faithfully in the blues tradition with simple and classic songs about broken hearts , love and story telling.

The four members, all hailing from Brooklyn, were each accomplished and strong instrumentalists in their own right. One half of a lead vocal duo, Peter Cole (vocals, guitars and dobro) brought a Bruce Springstein, Bod Dylan-esque vibe to the performance- in visual appearance as well as lyrics and voice. A master of his guitar and a keen ability to switch from soft handed ballads to a more rocked out and gritty sound, he had a solid presence that stole the show. An interesting contrast in style and dress, Byron Isaacs ( vocals, bass, dobro) offered an urban cowboy aura aesthetic and lyrical blues overtones. He often sang the more sensitive side to the lyrics and, while at times a bit saccharine and his voice proving best on recording, one had the feeling that just a bit of true vocal training the kid could truly rock the house live. He was one of those rare, true tenors with the style and musicality that can't be taught but who just needed the technical ability to reign it in. The gist of what he attempted to do with his voice was brilliant and much more discernible in his recordings but he lacked the strength to deliver a true live follow through. At least live, Byron was at his best with songs that took themselves, and in turn himself, less seriously.

The greater part of the show's first half was comprised of a plethora of love song ballads with Peter and Byron taking turns leading them. This started to drag on a bit but, by the end, when the group brought out songs that were less lyrics driven and more team oriented, they just truly rocked out and showcased their instrumentals and vocals in unison. It was then that the Lowdowners really. got. down. The group shines most using this formula and should continue in this direction. Byron and Peter had a great stage chemistry and the timbre of their voices worked well together. Byron's bass playing was solid and confident. Adam Goldfried on pedal steel, guitar and harmonica was masterfully versatile at all of his instruments, switching between them often and flawlessly. It is also worth mentioning that he was of the sort of dark and quietly stunning good looks and demure stage presence that added a balance and polish to the group as a whole. Tony Leone (drums, mandolin) was masterfully solid and a humble player, very much staying in background but silently holding his own and, in turn, holding the group together in a way that only a really talented drummer can execute.