Chris Thile at Calvin

Last night saw us heading to another show at Calvin. This time it was Chris Thile (of Nickel Creek) and How To Grow A Band. I’d been a little disappointed when we saw Nickel Creek a few months back. My response may have been as much a reaction to the remarkably hyped-up crowd as to the band’s performance, but they struck me as being a little over-confident and the show didn’t quite live up to the hype many in its audience were feeling.

Thile’s set was considerably less hyped, and generally enjoyable. The word was that he was returning to his bluegrass roots, but his set maintained enough of the pop stylings he’s better known for that it wouldn’t really qualify as bluegrass. But he had assembled a fine band, and wisely gave each of them space to bring their own songs and style. He was at his best when covering other peoples’ songs—he’s a much better performer than he is writer—and the surprising decision to close with Radiohead’s “Morning Bell” was remarkably successful.

A video of his performance of Gillian Welch’s “Back In Time” is here.

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