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Electric Picnic 09 - Magnolia Electric Company

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ATL | 18:11 UK time, Saturday, 5 September 2009

Cosby Stage, Saturday 6th, 5.00pm

Magnolia Electric Co.Sometimes it helps to dress for the occasion. Magnoila Electric Company are aware of this, and are garbed in some very nice suits indeed, giving them the look of the classiest bar band in the world. Draw-string ties, and shined shoes, they take the stage to a half empty tent, the emptiest tent ATL has seen so far. But they don't let it phase them, kicking off with some mid-tempo indie rock meets country jangle, sounding like the 'Sweetheart of the Rodeo' era Byrds, if theyd gone indie rock.

Several songs in, the pace has not noticably quickened, and a certain air of over-familiarity begins to hang around the performance. It's all pleasant enough, but starts to feel like background music quite quickly. But they get away with it because they're so charming. They look the part, and they act it too, ending each song with a, "Thanking you kindly."

Whether it's artifice or sincerity, it does the job, keeping us on their side, whilst they wander through their set. But as they plough onwards, the tent begins to fill, and the band seem to rise to this, songs starting to pull at one's attention, the band becoming more involved with the audience. At one point, Jason Molina produces two leaves from his pocket, and decorates the mic stand with them, adding that personal touch.

In essence, Magnoila Elcetric Company are not really suited to this kind of environment, their strength lying in the songwriting of Jason Molina, rather than any perfromance style. The nearest comparison is The Silver Jews' Daivid Berman, but Molina doesn't really possess the self-effacing charm of Berman, nor his frequently caustic wit. 

However, by the end of their set, something happens and the band shift gear. They cut loose and really begin cooking. This is what it should have been like from the begining, and Magnolia Electric Company prove that good suits and a scorching guitar solo are an award winning combination. This doesn't really fall into the alt-country bracket, and it's not really indie rock either, so when the band launch into some absolutely breath-taking guitar histrionics, it proves to be a secret weapon in the most unexpected of places.

Before their final song, Molina explains, "We're being kicked off the stage, hopefully not because we suck." He needn't worry too much after this qualified success.

Describe in a tweet: Southern gents add a touch of class to a muddy field.

Good Vibrations: The brain-meltingly good guitar work at the end of their set.

Life's a Beach: The slightly lugubrious air that clung to the set until the above guitar solo. MELT THOSE FRETS!

EP rating: 6/10 


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