You would think Independence Day would sap out most citizens’ passionate vigor in one nationalist swoop, wouldn’t you? Fortunately, that drained energy wasn’t built into Langhorne Slim’s plan. This Wednesday, Langhorne Slim & The Law brought an incredibly immersive experience to the normally calm and collected venue of Prescott Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Onlookers within the outdoor scene experienced flawless weather, but that weather promoted a still serenity that each spectator expected to embrace within their lawn chairs or on top of their blankets. Folk’s best excuse for a punk idol was not ready to let that mindset drag him down. Before the concert even started, he had the venue staff place a chalkboard out in front of the stage that informed attendees that his set would cause people to get up and dance. Spoiler alert: that warning was a prophetic.
Dan Blakeslee led the night off with a soft-spoken regional twang that resembled a dive bar artist that locals would rave about. His set wasn’t flashy, but it had it’s sparkles. His performance wasn’t riveting, but it was engaging. As I listened on, I whispered to surrounding friends that Blakeslee seemed talented, but the absence of a supporting band was the main hindrance in keeping this local act from spring-boarding to the next level. Just as the set was coming to an end, the stage manager nervously and blatantly asked Blakeslee to play one more song than he had anticipated in order to give Langhorne Slim a bit more time. Blakeslee took the request in stride and played a slow, acoustic, bluesy cover of “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” by The Clash. That bonus track was what changed my mind about his performance, as my friend replied to my earlier comment by saying “A band would be nice, but I’ve never heard The Clash played like before that in my life.” Blakeslee’s music is not yet available on Spotify or other major streaming sites, so his collection can be found on his website through the link attached to his name.
Langhorne Slim’s performance certainly spellbinding, as he made sure to stir the pot early and often. He began his set on a controversial foot, coming out individually and prefacing his music with a long speech that started with “Now I’m not here to talk about politics…explicitly.” Smirks and frowns were sprinkled throughout the crowd as they were either perturbed or intrigued by Langhorne Slim’s attempt to tell everyone what was currently right or wrong with the world. Whether everyone supported his stances or not, his closing message was one to admire, as he said “At the very least, we can execute the smallest of rebellions by grabbing the hands of our brothers and sisters and saying ‘I love you.'” In order to get everyone back on the same page, Langhorne Slim told the crowd variants of the same sentence three separate times, saying “I know you guys are pretty comfortable sitting down around here, but please stand up for me.” The crowd looked around nervously as many of them rose to their feet during a public Prescott Park concert for the first time all summer. From then on, Langhorne Slim made sure to keep them engaged with more than just his upbeat music. On more than one occasion he hopped down from the stage, sang in the crowd, then laid down next to someone on their lawn blanket and sang by their side. He took specific requests for songs, honestly told the crowd they could go on stage and drink any of the band’s extra waters (which some kids did), and even had several select audience-members strum his guitar or sing lines of his songs. The world was his stage while the stage itself was for everyone to share. His set would have been a treat whether or not he was captivating, but his sheer commitment to entertainment was what made his set one of the best of the summer. Below is a playlist of my favorite Langhorne Slim songs (not the setlist – meant to be shuffled).