L Shape Lot
4/9, 9 p.m. • $5 adv/$7 at door
LShape Lot: they put brandish acoustic sing-a-long sets and full-band barroom stomps at the forefront of enjoyment. They have lived through many stories to tell, merging life experience with melody.
Formed several years ago from a duo, the current four-member band consists of vocalist and acoustic guitarist Eric Miller, Alex Lanier (electric and acoustic guitar, vocals), Rick Williams (six-string electric bass, upright bass and vocals) and John Kovalski (drums, vocals). They play a mellow mix of Americana, filled with elements of bluegrass, folk and country, all saturated by affluent harmonies. Miller’s vocals are reminiscent of a seasoned backwoods country singer, which affords honesty to the narrative nature of their lyrics. His baritone voice pairs well with steady acoustic chords layered over tight country rhythms.
Channeling vintage Charlie Daniels (c.1970), songs like “Looks Like Snow” offers ear-pleasing four-part arrangements. Others, like “Church,” pick up the tempo in toe-tapping pleasure.
The band has recorded three studio albums, but that doesn’t stop them from venturing into cover songs during their live performance. Many of such have included opening for their heroes, like The Avett Brothers, Peter Frampton and Steep Canyon Rangers.
LSL’s schedule has been booked to the brim with touring, but on Saturday night they’ll be home at the Soapbox. encore was able to chat with the ramblin’ Best Band of 2011 (according to encore’s Reader’s Poll), where bassist Rick Williams discusses life on the road and a little nostalgia for their comfort zone—Wilmington.
encore: How has touring affected L Shape Lot’s dynamic?
Rick Williams: We all understand our responsibilities a little better now. It also helps to gauge the quality of new material. Folks around here who have listened to us for eight years respond positively to something new just because it’s new. Folks that aren’t as familiar with us compare the new stuff to the old stuff with no bias, so we get to understand if we are really producing better material now. We write for ourselves, but if we don’t write for the audience, too, we won’t be on the stage much longer.
e: Are you writing while on tour?
RW: Most of the writing happens when Eric and Alex are able to carve out time to work together on arranging their individual work. Then we put the finishing touches on as a group and take it out to the people. We turn sound checks into small practice sessions when we can. That leaves us time to spend with our friends when traveling. The folks who house, feed and entertain us on the road are becoming like another family. If we had to stop doing this tomorrow, we would probably miss the people as much as the music.
e: Tell us about the bluegrass fests you play.
RW: They are the greatest shows for us because of the level of attentiveness. We are generally perceived as “a little sketchy” when we plop drums and amps down on the stage, but once we get going, they get it. We have a great love and respect for bluegrass, and that comes through, regardless of our interpretation.
e: How do your out-of-town shows differ from local gigs?
RW: It’s a good feeling to come into a new town or venue and know that you have to earn every fan there. You won’t get by on your name, reputation or how long you have been at it. You just have to be your best and connect with an audience. Nothing else matters for a few hours, and that’s a great feeling. It’s great here, too, but there’s less pressure. Wilmington is a comfort zone for us, and stepping out of your comfort zone always makes you better no matter what you do.
e: What is next?
RW: I would say from a writing standpoint, we have about half of the next album. We are excited about taking the new material out on the road for a while to see how it evolves before going back in the studio.