Born in the Flood‘s show at the Gothic Theatre on Friday night was a rather odd but nonetheless beautiful hybrid of reunion and reintroduction. The problem was it felt almost as if the bill was in reverse order. The first band to perform, In the Whale, blew me away with its snarly, dirty guitar riffs and urgent energy. Next up was Nathan and Stephen, who played with overwhelming excitement and gratitude. And finally, Born in the Flood, who sounded as lovely and solid as ever, but also the tiniest bit exhausted and labored. In short, the show began with the future and ended with the past.
In the Whale consists of just two musicians, but somehow creates a tsunami of sexy, hard-edged rock. Calling out the audience for not dancing (“I’ll consider you physically unattractive if you don’t dance to this song!”) and speaking with real reverence of of Nathan and Stephen and Born in the Flood, the band’s set cemented its status as a new favorite of mine.
I’m sad to admit that this reunion show was the first time I’ve seen Nathan and Stephen play live as a full group, but it took a place near the top of my list of memorable local shows. From Leanor Till and Phil Donovan’s dancy antics in the horn section to the audible strain heard in Nathan McGarvey’s voice, the band put everything it had into the set, and obviously loved every loud, frantic second of it.
Born in the Flood started its set with “On a Good Day,” and proceeded to power through two other favorites before Nathaniel Rateliff confessed to the audience: “I’m out of shape.” And while the sound was as tight as it had ever been, it seemed that the band’s synergy was harder-won at this show than I had remembered. When the band played “Anthem,” it came together beautifully, but when the song was over, Rateliff thanked the audience “for trying.” It seemed an odd thing to say, but in retrospect, it reflected a realization that, like the band, the audience was a little older than when they had last come together. That makes it all a little harder and a little more of an effort. Nevertheless, the music, the thing that brought everyone together, was still just as good — even if it took a bit more out of all of us.
Cassandra Schoon is a Denver freelance writer and regular Reverb contributor.