Review: The Cave Singers cap a perfect night at Zanzabar [Music]

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The Cave Singers came to town Saturday night and delivered an excellent set of lively, eclectic rock, following up the much mellower songstress who opened for them, Lia Ices. Ices has an ethereally pretty voice, but even in the cozy confines of Zanzabar's bar area, her voice seemed muted, melting away amongst the clink of beer bottles and buzzing conversations. Still, she was warmly received by a steadily building crowd, which included at least one celebrity sighting. I did not have a sharp enough eye to recognize actress Jennifer Carpenter, but my Dexter-watching friends assured me it was she.

If you'll allow me a non-musical aside before getting to the band, I have to say that Zanzabar offers one of the best nights out in Louisville that can be had -- especially if you arrive early enough to enjoy a leisurely dinner before the show. The menu is a cut above anything you're going to find at other music venues, and better than a lot of casual dining restaurants for that matter. Last night's special, for example, was a sliced duck breast in dijon sauce with potato and cauliflower casserole (cheesy and good). The staff is also warm and friendly.

Sitting in one of the booths, sipping wine and eating a tasty dinner with friends, you get the added benefit of observing the sartorial creativity of your fellow Louisvillians. While skinny jeans and plaids abound, you'll also see women in maxi dresses and gladiator sandals, hip to hip, as it were, with gals sporting cheek-skimming hot-pants paired with ankle booties. Impressive handlebar moustaches and sideburns, nerd glasses and tattoos -- yep, it's all on colorful display.

But on to the music. Lead singer Pete Quirk, drummer Marty Lund, and guitarist Derek Fudesco make up The Cave Singers. Shaggy and approachable, they project a down-home kind of warmth in the no-nonsense way they present the music, which is hypnotically pleasing, whether it's the pretty melody of "Haller Lake," accompanied by Quirk's swooning melodica, or the revved-up energy of "Black Leaf" -- probably my favorite song on the new album (No Witch), and a real crowd-pleaser. Fudesco plays seated on a stool and mostly hunched over his guitar, picking out lyrical riffs on songs like "Clever Creatures" and "Swim Club." Lund's assured beats vary between quasi-tribal to straight-ahead rock rhythms with washboard strumming or maracas sometimes added to the mix.

From the moment they started, The Cave Singers commanded the room -- a steady stream of spectators wormed their way ever closer to the front. The jangly, loose energy of the music animated the crowd, who bounced and bopped along with the music. The set culminated with a foot-stomping favorite from their debut album, "Dancing on our Graves." Maybe it was just the standard pander, but Quirk declared that the ZBar patrons were one of the best crowds they had played to on their current tour, and I believed him. They are definitely a band to watch, and if you're also a Fleet Foxes fan, The Cave Singers will be touring with them later this spring and early summer.

Lia Ices opened for The Cave Singers.

Drummer Marty Lund and Derek Fudesco

Pete Quirk on the melodica

The Cave Singers