By Troy Aldrich
Kevin Morby’s self-titled band is a collection of musicians from opposite sides of the country, and his last album, “City Music,” is a representation of those bicoastal influences. Morby is from Kansas City, but is joined by Meg Duffy, who comes from upstate New York.
Morby played the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., on Friday May 4. The band is capping off a six-week tour, that landed in Iowa City for it’s second-to-last stop.
“I’m originally from the Midwest, so it’s great to be back playing here,” Morby said just before he led his band into an encore.
The band played primarily from City Music, pleasing the Mill’s audience as the 2017 album has been well-received by Morby’s fans. Morby himself came out in a suit stitched with graphics representing a two-track theme on his last album.
“Cry Baby” is stitched in bold letters on the back of the jacket, surrounded by lightning and raindrops, with Eyes patched in the knees; staring the concert-goers in the face while Morby himself hides behind his curly hair.
The show was primarily a duo when they performed the biggest hits; Morby and Duffy turn to each other, leaving room for only their guitars between them, when it comes time for a big jam.
During the title track, the elongated bass intro was concluded by a shake down on stage by Morby and Duffy that set the tone for the rest of the set. They went on to play “1234” and “Cry Baby,” to conclude the City Music set until the final encore, “Dry Your Eyes.”
Duffy brought her band, Hand Habits, to open for her band mate’s set. The singer-songwriter from New York brings an entirely different sound to her own music.
The shredding guitar solos that she plays with Morby are traded for a more intentional, direct sound when she is producing the music from her only solo album, “Wildly Idle (Humble Before the Void).”
Hand Habit’s performance was welcomed by eager fans, who led the Mill’s crowd to the front of the stage following Duffy’s confusion with the venue itself.
“This is the weirdest venue I’ve ever played,” Duffy said. “It feels like I’m playing my families holiday party.”
This rocky start to the set proved effective, as the Mill’s crowd flooded the dance floor, fully engaging in the show.
“In Iowa, it’s weird that everyone just stands,” Cory Aldinger, a career-long fan of Morby said at the show. “When they jam, it really helps me open up.”
Following the conclusion of Duffy’s opening set, she threw on a backwards hat and became an entirely different character for Morby’s show. She came out with an entirely different swagger; with toothpick-in-mouth, she tore apart the solos during the band’s set.
The band will conclude their tour in Kansas City, and Duffy has plans to begin recording a new album that she hopes will release in the fall.