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Landon Hedges / Stop at Line / Joe Liebentritt
Feb. 19, 2003
The 49'r



So how was Landon Hedges at the 49'r last night? Well, I only made it through an hour of the show. The venue suffers from its own success, at least on these acoustic nights. The room was completely filled, no place to sit, no place really to stand without being in someone's way. That, plus a headache and a sore shoulder drew me away before I could get through a second cycle -- their acoustic nights are done in a 'round robin style, with each artist performing three songs. It's not really the ideal place to see solo acoustic singer/songwriters because the constant crowd noise never drops below a stadium rumble, even when the performers are on stage. As a result, despite a high-quality job by soundman Matt Whipkey, there's no way to make out what the singers are singing.

I got there in time to see first performer Joe Liebentritt do his thing. All's I can tell you is he sat down, he played an acoustic guitar, and he sang songs that had melody with words that probably rhymed. Of the three, he was the most suited to be playing in a coffee shop where there's no distractions. His voice got lost in the rumble.

Next up was a performer that goes by the name Stop at Line. I had been told by a couple people what to expect, but I didn't expect what I heard. This guy's vocals are spot-on impersonations of Conor Oberst a.k.a. Bright Eyes -- from the quiet shimmy all the way to the off-kilter screech. I had to smile. He even looked a little like Oberst, sans bangs in the eyes and bad posture. I asked a couple people I knew if I was missing something, and they all just smiled. Nope. His Oberst impersonation is uncanny. He's managed to take all the worst characteristics -- all the things that Oberst is criticized for vocal-wise -- and blend them into his keynote vocal style. So distracting was his mimicry that everything else -- his songwriting, his lyrics, his guitar playing -- went right out the window. He must be aware that he is doing this -- no one sings that way for any other reason then on purpose. Any criticism can't be anything he hasn't heard before, too many times.

Third up was Landon Hedges, dwarfed behind his giant electric Harmony. I didn't think his voice would carry through the Niner's barroom ambiance, but surprisingly, it made it through okay. He sang the song I mentioned in the article, the one about being called a monster (FYI, none of his songs have names -- Landon says he comes up with them last. For lack of a better name, I call that one "The Monster Song").

All of Hedges' songs sounded terribly lonely, forlorn, sad. Landon's vocals lend themselves well to the style, all filled with high-end ennui that counterbalances his echoing guitar tones -- his songs would be a perfect soundtrack to a film shot on an empty, overcast ocean beach about 20 minutes before sundown.

I would have stayed for a second round, but by the time Landon was finished and Liebentritt had started up again, I found myself standing by the back door, the parking lot's call just too enticing to pass up…

back torevhead.gif (1924 bytes)   Posted Feb. 20, 2003. Copyright 2003 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.








All of Hedges' songs sounded terribly lonely, forlorn, sad.