C’mon, c’mon. I want to hear that fucking noise.

I don’t get out to roll with the rock as much as I used to. This is partly because as I get older I can’t recover as well from a late night of boozin’, smokin’ and, well, rockin’ as I did when I was say… 21. But it’s also just a natural state of music geekdom: as the music geek attends more and more gigs not only does that mental (or perhaps written in the case of the more extreme, scary geeks) checklist of “bands I need to see live” grow increasingly more checked-off, but it also takes a lot more to impress us. That local punk band who was the bee’s knees to you at 19 just doesn’t bring enough to the table after having seen so much live music over the years.

Of course I’d give anything to re-experience the teenage thrill of seeing that proverbial local punk band with the fresh ears, eyes and heart I had back then! What pop music lover doesn’t feel that way? But I am who I am now and that’s a 31 year old man for whom it takes a little extra something special to get him out to rock the roll. And that’s where last night’s Tilly and the Wall gig at the Abbey Pub came in.

“We’ve got a bottle of wine, a fresh pack of smokes. We’re going to end up screaming about some midnight garage sale.”

Tilly and the Wall’s first full-length album, “Wild Like Children”, probably has its own special hole that it’s about to bore in my iPod’s hard drive because of how much I listen to it. By now it has dug its simple-beauty tunes deep into my subconscious, becoming the soundtrack to dreams that I can’t remember. And as any pop music fan knows, it’s a special treat to go see a band whose lyrics you’ve memorized like it’s going to help you pass some kind of indie rock GRE.

“So it’s Friday night down on North Avenue…”

This time it was Tuesday night down on Grace Street, but the first time I experienced Tilly and the Wall live it was indeed a Friday night down on North Avenue at the Double Door. They opened up for The Go! Team and I saw them by accident, the result of poorly planning my arrival at the club hoping to miss any opening acts and just eat the main course. Lucky for me I’m never very good at timing.

“The microphone cut off so we’re screaming at the top of our lungs.”

According to allmusic.com, the band’s tap dancing percussionist is named Jamie Williams. Prior to acquiring this knowledge, however, I just called her Tilly. It wasn’t something I did consciously, just when I thought of the word “Tilly” I thought of her. It makes sense: out of all five musicians, she’s the most noticeable presence on stage at one of their gigs, with her arms flailing about as she tap tap taps away.

In fact, she even flails those arms a bit when she’s not tapping, it’s just the way she grooves to the music her bandmates churn out. During a non-tap-driven song, she was standing off to the side in the background of the stage drinking some water, still doing her arm dance and mouthing along to the words. It’s a completely honest and unselfconscious dance, the sort that you or I might do, but when she does it, especially during those semi-private break-time moments, it helps bring us onto that stage in an act of that classic punk rock magic wherein the performer-audience gap closes and sometimes disappears.

“Just when we thought we were no longer lost, they kicked us out into the dirty streets of Atlanta”

Before their final song, “Nights of the Living Dead”, their male singer (AMG tells me it is Derek Pressnall, but Guitar Tilly or Tilly Guitar Boy works just as nicely) told us that the extra people he brought out on stage were in fact the very people they wrote the song about. Whether or not that was true (it probably was), it still brought everything full circle, once again taking the music off the stage and into the audience where it takes on its own life. It didn’t matter if those kids were the same ones in the song, because I was in that song too and I distinctly remember screaming about their midnight garage sale.

Tilly and the Wall make lovely songs about living and loving and the beauty found in the scrapes and bruises one gets along the way. Crafting great pop songs like that is a powerful skill all too rare, but their sharpest talent when playing live is reminding us that all these songs celebrate us and the lives we’ve spent riding the thrill contained in three fleeting minutes or less.

“You know we’re just trying to get to the club and shake our asses. A caravan of kids….”

I don’t get out much to live gigs, but when I do, it’s for a show that I think will give me something more than I would get out of just listening to a record, something precious and magical and emotional and alive. Lucky for me, I had seen Tilly do that before and I drove to the Abbey last night eager for them to take me on another all-night adventure in the span of an hour. Without hesitation, in the only way they know how, they kidnapped us into their caravan of kids, hellbent on just getting to the club to shake our asses.

http://www.tillyandthewall.com
http://myspace.com/officialtillyandthewall