Abouretum’s ‘False Spring’

by Jordan Green

The band members are unloading their van in the parking lot behind Square One in Greensboro’s reviving Glenwood section, carrying amps, drums, guitars and assorted gear into the practice space and sometimes venue, a nondescript brick storefront with crumbling ceiling tiles. A chill has descended on the city as the sun drops, making it feel more like November than April. Dave Heumann wears a thin black leather jacket over a gunmetal gray hoodie. His brown hair curtains his eyes when he looks down, and a full beard surrounds his chapped lips. He continues unloading, and mentions something about counting the merchandise. This Tuesday night marks the start of Arbouretum’s tour to support its new Thrill Jockey full-length, Song of the Pearl, an outing that will take them up and down the east coast through the middle of the summer, with stops at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach, SC and at Carnegie Hall in New York City. They’re joined by Love As Laughter from Brooklyn on this first leg. Later, around 9:45 p.m., the Greensboro band the Tiny Meteors plays a joyously rocking opening set for friends, although the response from the audience thinly filling the room is somewhat muted. When Love As Laughter kicks into their set, the audience falls for them and the band captures the peak of their energy. A trio formed around the song-craft of Sam Jayne, the rhythm section rocks in a simple and funky way.Jayne’s vocals keen with an emotional commitment and his guitar playingextracts snake-like diamonds and counterintuitive melody in a way thatmakes him sound like a latterday Nils Lofgren. Localimpresario Andrew Dudek plops down in a chair in front of the band andcracks jokes at Jayne. “Watch out,” he says, alluding to some problemsthe guitar player is having keeping his instrument secure. “The strap.” Now employed at REI, Dudek is a singer, songwriter and playerin the band Dawn Chorus; onetime record-store owner and venue manager;but most importantly he may be Greensboro’s closest listener. He’san indie-rocker with a living-room aesthetic. That is, he responds asif he was sitting in a living room listening to a friend play —hollering, commenting and giving appreciation. Love AsLaughter finish up, and the bands switch out. Arbouretum bass playerCorey Allender stashes a bottle of red wine next to the drum kit. It’s15 minutes to the midnight hour — almost Wednesday — in the cold,unheated room, and Dudek gives the cue, “Action!” They begin,appropriately, with “False Spring,” the lead track on Song of Pearl. Thesong launches in a drone made up of layered rhythm guitars played byHeumann and Steve Strohmeier. Then comes Heumann’s sun-stroked vocals,tentative at first and then bracing: “Come along, we’ll ride together.” The drumming is loose, and the bass is monster. The crowd hasthinned since Love As Laughter broke down their set, but the remainingstalwarts howl with appreciation at the end of Arbouretum’s song. Theymove through the set with dispatch, loosing this music full ofpsychedelic swirl and elongated dueling guitar solos by Heumann andAllender. Heumann looks like an Old Testament prophet attestingjeremiads of scary folk vocals that rise like mist off the CrazyHorse-like maelstrom of rocking guitars. Nearing the end ofthe set, Allender gestures to the second to last song on the set listand suggests they skip it. Heumann isn’t having it. “If we f**k it up,we’re going to f**k it up for a dozen people,” he says. Then he speaksto the audience and explains, “We’re very tired and we stayed up latelast night.” It shows. Some of the musicians are rubbing theireyes. They burn through a final psychedelic vamp — jamming hard — andthen rest their instruments as a few last beers are killed. Stragglerscommune, and bands and fans slip away to their sleeping places.

Drummer Daniel Franz lays it down.