It’s not often that a band comes along that can impress equally on technical skills and on how happy the music makes you feel. Good Old War is one of those bands, and they recently released their fourth album, “Broken Into Better Shape” on Nettwerk Records. They came to the W Hotel’s trendy rooftop bar, POV, to play a free acoustic set that also marked the conclusion of the day’s Record Store Crawl event.
The musical duo of Keith Goodwin and Daniel Schwartz stepped foot on the stage without much backing them up - just Schwartz on the acoustic guitar, Goodwin on vocals, and the Washington Monument as the scenic backdrop. Some listeners may balk at an all-acoustic set, hoping to hear the music played with a full band, but the full sound of Schwartz’s guitar playing combined with some improvised percussion and feel-good harmonies brought all the makings for a fun time. Playing with an quick cadence that would feel right at home with a bluegrass band, he didn’t let up on the strings until the end. Songs like “Coney Island” translated well from the album to the acoustic set, with their fast acoustic strumming and foot-stomping being just as familiar and fun as it was on the album.
Ideally, a live concert experience is a symbiotic relationship. The band is there for the crowd and the crowd is there for the band - right? But when a band plays as the capstone for a day-long event at a place where one goes to see and be seen, there will be inconveniences. Chatter from the edges of the Record Store Crawl crowds and from those partaking in table service were able to drown out the band at times. You would never have known if they were frustrated, though - they were highly appreciative to the crowd that was there for the music and not just the cocktails. (Amusingly, POV created a Moscow Mule variant for the show that they called Good Old Mule - at the low, low cost of $10.) But hey, the view is nice - so much so that Goodwin would try to snag an unobstructed view of the Washington Monument in-between songs.
By the end of the set, the dedicated fans in the crowd got the two to perform a two-song encore, including sing-along “Loud Love” that had one large group in the crowd swaying together and singing “If you love me, don’t you let me go” along with everyone else there in attendance. And closer “Tell Me What You Want From Me” had everyone yelling “HEY!” together during the chorus. Even those at table service can’t help a good acoustic sing-along, especially when it’s being led by a duo as impressive as Good Old War.