Tim Arnold, drummer and vocalist in indie-rock trio Good Old War, has described the band’s live shows as “a campfire with friends where you play songs together and sing along like friends.” And at Good Old War’s intimate, communal show at the Depot last night, no description could have been more accurate.
The set list consisted of tunes both new and old, from Good Old War’s 2008 debut Only Way to Be Alone, their self-titled sophomore album (2010) to the lovely Come Back as Rain, released earlier this year. With tremendous joie de vivre, Arnold, Keith Goodwin (vocals/guitar) and Dan Schwartz (vocals/guitar) played a set that not only displayed incredible musicianship -- including a few awesome guitar solos from Schwartz -- but also pulled at the audience members’ heartstrings with emotionally charged songs like “That’s Some Dream.” With the song’s poignant lyrics, including “I’m gonna live, I’m all right / I’m gonna die, it’s all right / I’m OK,” it wasn’t surprising to hear a guy behind me say to his friend, “Damn, that one made me tear up …”
Luckily, the set also included a lot of hilarious crowd banter and a couple of fun covers, to the relief of this writer, especially, who has been known to get teary during Hallmark commercials. At one point, Good Old War blasted into a rendition of “Banana Boat Song (Day-O),” with Arnold showcasing powerful pipes. And Goodwin revealed the true reason the band chose the name Good Old War — created from bits of the trio’s last names — “Goodwin, Arnold & Schwartz sounded like a law firm.”
“Amazing Eyes” was a particularly beautiful moment in the show, with the spare accompaniment of only an acoustic guitar allowing the trio’s gorgeous three-part harmonies as well as Goodwin’s spectacular voice to really shine. “Loud Love” was an opportunity to enjoy fantastic vocal solos from all three band members. And “Better Weather” -- as played in living rooms across America when Good Old War made their first national TV appearance on TBS late-night Conan in April— encapsulated the band’s infectious optimism and hope and got the entire audience singing along with huge smiles on their faces.
It’s not uncommon to see musicians and bands just get through their set without being emotionally invested in the audience, but Good Old War couldn’t have projected more love for their listeners and utter joy in their craft. I left the Depot feeling like I’d just been sitting around a campfire with some close friends, toasting marshmallows, singing songs and gazing at the stars through the trees.
Photos by Kolbie Stonehocker