By Brian Heisler
A live recording in the home town of Washington, D.C. brings out the cult following of these great live popsters. The liner notes even include the names of every fan who signed the guest book at The 9:30 Club on January 6th, the night of the recording. Virginia Coalition has received great support from its fans, but the band is sill on the rise with many great feats still to come. The unique sound of the band is genuinely happy and positive, cutting bright and melodic tracks one after another. The music is definitely fit to sing to, but VACO molds each tune into jams that even the pop-lovers can get down to. Intriguing lyrics are plentiful in these tunes, and front man Andrew Poliakoff always keeps the audience involved.
The absence of a second guitar on Live at the 9:30 Club reveals that the sound in fact has been altered only slightly in harmonies and minor nuances. Some spaces are a bit drier, while at the same time giving way to more room for Poliakoff to preach to the crowd with his lyrics, speech, and catchy guitar riffs. The two-disc, 16-song recording effectively works as a developing greatest hits album. Songs like "Green and Grey," "Likeness," "Voyager 2," "Motown," and "Lonely Cowboy" have been fan favorite staples for years and receive a solid welcoming to this live album. A candid, poppy "Lean on Me" kicks off the second disc and has been validated throughout the year of touring. Throughout the night's performance, the band throws in jams, solos, conversations with the crowd, and percussion collaborations. As he is known to do, Paul Ottinger occasionally leaves the keys to add auxiliary percussion, and Poliakoff generally lends a hand to the fun as well.
Tracks range from just under three minutes to extended pieces lasting longer than thirteen minutes. The song writing is mainly what moves the VACO sound, but the live show brings out the musicianship of this band and moreover, the soul that goes into the connection with the fans each night. Whether your pile of ticket stubs is the remnants of a jam tour, indie clubs, or pop hot spots, Virginia Coalition's Live at the 9:30 Club will fit pleasantly with your live tastes. This is the music loyal fans have been following for years, and it's a nice piece to hang on to.
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