Department Of Eagles @ Cafe Du Nord

Department Of Eagles at Café Du Nord, San Francisco, CA, January 25th, 2009 (with The Cave Singers)


Du Nord

Cafe Du Nord is a tiny, coffin-like club located 30 feet below Market Street in San Francisco. Harkening back to its speakeasy roots with low ceilings, carpeted walls, and cramped size; it can be something of a nightmare for those who might have a propensity for the claustrophobic. The minute I get down there, my first thought is always “God, I really hope there isn’t a fire here tonight…” because I am absolutely certain I would die. Nonetheless, Café Du Nord is one of my favorite venues in the city though because of these things and not (as you might expect) in spite of them.

My introduction to Du Nord came long ago, when Ohnedaruth would hammer out A Love Supreme there regularly, and I could stand inches away from Archbishop Franzo King and feel every single note… But I digress; the point is the club’s acoustics are unbelievably great and the tight space increases the sensation of being swaddled by sound- when you have an awesome band playing a deeper sense of bliss can be found few other places.


This past Sunday I had the unmitigated joy of seeing such an awesome band play there; Department of Eagles (the early show), along with The Cave Singers as openers. I have to say it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. DOE opened with head-Eagle Daniel Rossen, alone with his banjo and a quiet “Ok, let’s get started”- flowing right into the dreamy serenade of Balmy Night. They went on to play everything I was dying to hear; In Ear Park, No One Does it Like You, Around the Bay, and Waves of Rye. In such an intimate space, the songs took on a completely new energy that I never would have expected. When I listen to Phantom Other through headphones, Rossen’s drippy, echoing guitar and ethereal voice draws me into his dream like a ghost world, and even during the crescendos of the song, I’m still in a lulled state. Standing a few feet in front of him, the song took on a whole new dimension, and hearing “what would it take / to make you listen?” with drums and furious guitar bursting into the cramped room made it feel like we were all in the middle of a storm. Additionally, they played a couple of new songs which sounded great. One of these was an encore with just Daniel on stage using a kind of real-time multi-track device to create his own harmonious choruses that, while a bit awkward toward the end, made for a great song.

The Cave Singers

The opening band, The Cave Singers were also great. I hadn’t heard them before, but I immediately took to their folky, down-to-earth sound that often showed a slightly hidden edge. Pete Quirk’s voice is wonderfully nasally and gravelly at the same time and when combined with Derek Fudesco’s plucky guitar the effect that left everyone in the place bouncing their heads.
In addition to his guitar, Pete brought in a melodica and harmonica which were great additions. I’ll definitely be checking these guys out later.

The Cave Singers