by Miranda Feinberg
“Should we just start?” Valley Maker’s Austin Crane opened his show with this casual question, speaking to the audience directly. Following the full-stop that COVID-19 seemed to extend to every little aspect of social life, Crane opened his concert with a personal feel that buzzed comfortably and comfortingly throughout the small hot pub Saturday night. After a three-year hiatus from performing, during which Crane wrote his most recent album as well as moved from Seattle back home to South Carolina, the concert felt a little like a collective group sigh of relief at the return of live music. Crane, who tonight was joined for the first time live by his longtime collaborator, singer Amy Godwin, performed many new songs off his new album When the Day Leaves. The performances were intimate and toned down, with just Godwin, Crane and his guitar; the guitar riffs, evoking the folky center within Crane’s music, and the beautiful harmonies gave off a very warm feel.
When the Day Leaves has been lauded by critics for its success at bridging the gap between the personal anxieties that came with Crane’s new move and the more universal anxieties that have washed over the world. While I went into this concert with an admittedly topical knowledge of Valley Maker’s music, the songs really spoke to me, and the music performances really had such an acoustic charm to them. The harmonic duet of Crane and Godwin’s voices brought to the concert all the depth and emotion put into this music, and the small venue created a very sweet atmosphere.
The size of O’Brien’s pub really enhanced the performance. Not only did the small size add to the charm and enhance the acoustics, but the informal nature created a friendly dynamic between performer and audience right off the bat. Crane peppered in various anecdotal stories, such as a recent experience when he was stopped on the streets of New York by a stranger who didn’t like his hair and a pause to celebrate Godwin’s birthday. The energy brought to the concert created a familiar feel that lasted all night.
Overall, the performances and ambiance made for a great night. Valley Maker’s music was a beautiful mixture of well-oiled harmonies and guitar strums, and the performance made for a great night.