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Photos and review by Laurie Scavo
Long-running indie outfit Clem Snide opened their show at Spaceland on Saturday night with “Walmart Parking Lot,” the opening track from the new album “The Meat of Life” – seemingly out of nowhere, frontman Eef Barzelay burst into the first haunting verse in characteristic quaver, “Punched in the heart, in the throat, in the kneecaps too / That’s how it felt when you told me we were through.” The punches, at least, foreshadowed the evening to come, as a collective weakness in the knees appeared to ripple through the intimate audience of reverent fans.
Easily finding its way into my top 5 albums for 2010, “The Meat of Life,” the seventh release from Clem Snide, is an engaging collection of songs that punches, pulls and twists the heart with daring and disturbingly beautiful lyrics about unreliable love, loss and small bits of recovery.
Weaving fact and fiction about people and places into his evocative narration, Barzelay charmed the crowd with clever stories, including one about his small son finding a used condom in the bushes in the park, an experience that inspired him to write “to grow the meat of life, I will plant my seed.”
Donning his traditional flannel fare and smart glasses, Barzelay played both with his band, which included Heligoats frontman Chris Otepka on guitar (his one-man band was also the opening act), and then ventured out on his own for the occasional solo. At quiet points during the set, I was reminded how refreshing it is to hear a rich, authentic performance without the usual bar banter that tends to drown out precious lyrics as of late. I guess everyone was too busy getting punched in throat.