The semi-supergroup Golden Smog is composed of Midwestern rockers looking to get their ra-ra jones out; though they did that in spades at a fun but overlong show at the Avalon, their enthusiasm did little to rouse a less-than-half-full house, not as soused as the band and, seemingly, not as happy to be there either. It’s too bad: “Another Fine Day” (Lost Highway) is a pretty fine album, and — despite the absence of the most super member of the group, Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy — the band’s delivery was perfectly sloppy when it needed to be and perfectly tight when songs called for a more pro delivery.
Frontmen Gary Louris and Marc Perlman (both of the Jayhawks) and Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum) tease each other, their easy energy effective on both melodically driven country-rock ballads and riff-rockers like “Hurricane,” a highlight of both the album and the show.
Murphy, especially, was ardent to let his singing chops shine: As the guitarist for Soul Asylum, he’s often relegated to background vocals, but his rough-hewed lead vocals made for an often provocative counterpoint to Louris and Perlman’s sweeter harmonies, and jokes about the “super” part of the group (which mostly focused on the fictional band Schnauser) were an obvious sign that Golden Smog has a sense of humor about their roots.
Still, playing to just a few hundred people in a venue built for more than a thousand is a tough proposition, and the band was obviously frustrated with their small draw.
“We’ve been up here a while — show us some love,” Perlman said, towards the end of the set — and the scattered but enthusiastic applause was far from enough to make up for the palpable, overall indifference of the room.