When Lockeland spoke with Dylan LeBlanc prior to his Thursday night set at The Basement, the Louisiana native made reference to the fact that he’d love to garner the whole-hearted support from Nashville, but in due time. Ever the humble troubadour, LeBlanc’s humility might be a bit of an under-sale of his own credibility – if his Basement set was any indication, he’s well on his way to becoming one of Nashville’s out-of-town darlings.
It makes sense, honestly. LeBlanc’s style is wholly forthcoming, and uniquely perceived as a tired yet hopeful man, sage well beyond his twenty-something odd years of life. That’s the type of touring balladeer that Nashville loves to lay claim to, regardless of the fact they’ve spent ten years versus ten days carving out a path within Music City.
All that to be said, while LeBlanc’s appreciation for the city is admirable and flattering, it never compromises his own standing as a persona and performer. He arrives in town under no pretense whatsoever – no need to grovel at the feet of the city, no need to speak out on what he likes most about the city. Instead, he’s humble, forthright, and charming the entire evening over.
Following an opening set from The Pollies, LeBlanc and his band took to The Basement stage in front of a packed out (and considerably humid) crowd – some of whom had remained seated in front of the stage since doors for prime viewing of LeBlanc as he and his band purveyed their Cautionary Tale. Wearing a pea coat and ivy cap – LeBlanc could have been ripped right from British gentleman’s quarterly hunting magazine – the band dropped into “Look How Far We’ve Come” off Cautionary Tale, which featured an interesting harpsichord Moog effect in lieu of the original recording’s orchestral string accompaniment, giving the track a decidedly more intrepid feel over the live bass line.
If you read Lockeland’s feature with LeBlanc a couple of weeks back, then you’ll be aware of his desire to fill out the songs live with a little more rock n roll feel – a little more punch, so to speak – and good lord did LeBlanc and his band bring some punch on the once airy tracks off of Cautionary Tale. The outro for “Look How Far We’ve Come” shifted from a tasteful fade into a riotous live decrescendo. “I’m Moving On” went from a soft cooing final love letter into a scathing middle finger of a musical manifesto, only to be subverted by LeBlanc’s simple “Thank you so much” in response to The Basement crowd’s ovation.
It is interesting to think that in LeBlanc’s dynamism as a live artist, he could potentially subvert and warp perspectives as an artist, no longer viewed as a pensive bard who happens to have guitar chops, but now a band leading showman whose banter in between tracks furthers a veil of confusion on whether he’s having the time of his life on stage or working out some sort of deeply personal fury (my money is on the former).
Nevertheless, LeBlanc never missed an opportunity to express his gratitude for the audience in attendance, and the audience never wasted an opportunity to express its distinct admiration without coming off as overly effusive, though it would have been hard to do so considering how magnificent LeBlanc and co put on. They ran the gamut of the aforementioned punch and would transition seamlessly into the classic “vibey” (as LeBlanc calls it) sound that brought LeBlanc and his band to The Basement in the first place.
There were plenty of highlights throughout LeBlanc’s eight song Basement set, but the strongest moment came in the power packed pairing of “Beyond the Veil” and “Easy Way Out,” opening up vibey, carried by LeBlanc’s honey rosined timbre and then closed out with two blood boiling instrumental breaks that brought hit after hit without anyone ever missing a beat. They closed the two songs like they were closing out the entire set, but such a notion was ultimately a tease, as the band then dropped into the eponymous “Cautionary Tale” and a closing cover of John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep?,” both songs being equal parts punch and vibe.
LeBlanc certainly put his money where his mouth was with regard to the punch up most of the songs off of Cautionary Tale received in the band’s live set, and man did they get a hell of a face life (not that one was needed in the first place). It was an interesting evening, considering the high production value of the show that evening at The Basement in which one couldn’t help but think that LeBlanc – who thanked the crowd for coming out to the show that happened to be the site of other shows which touted a few dozen people or so in the past – is well positioned to be too big for a room like The Basement next time he rolls through town.