Good Old War in Allston

Matthew Shelter on December 20, 2011

Good Old War
Brighton Music Hall
Allston, MA
December 10

Good Old War, the indie trio out of Philadelphia, dropped in on the Brighton Music Hall in Allston, MA for a show that was…well, everything a show in a packed club on a Saturday night should be: loud, rollicking, arms-in-the-air fun.

The band features Tim Arnold on drums, Dan Schwartz on guitar and Keith Goodwin on keyboard (the name Good Old War derives from portions of each of their last names), but all three are multi-instrumentalists; Arnold broke out an accordion for several songs, Goodwin can strap on a guitar as needed, and Schwartz can play two guitars at once (using one of those funky guitar stands that the crazy young kids have nowadays).

As much as any of those instruments, though, it’s the harmonies the three create – on stage and on album – that define Good Old War’s sound. Their tracks carry more than a little hint of Crosby, Stills & Nash or Simon & Garfunkel at their sprightly best. Even the sad songs Good Old War plays will make you smile and tap your feet.

They opened their set with the made-for-sing-along “We’ve Come a Long Way,” and closed it some 90 minutes later with “Coney Island,” both off of their 2008 debut Only Way To Be Alone. In between, they covered most of the highs and other highs (Good Old War doesn’t really do lows) from their two full-length releases, the second of which, the self-titled Good Old War, was released in 2010. Highlights included “Just Another Day,” “Weak Man,” and “That’s What’s Wrong” from their first album, and “My Own Sinking Ship,” “Sneaky Louise,” and “That’s Some Dream” off of Good Old War. The band also played at least one track from their upcoming third album, slated to be released on March 6 of next year.

By all appearances, Good Old War is a band of equals. There is no readily identifiable front man, and all three members take turns introducing songs and talking to the audience. Goodwin and Schwartz shared the songwriting duties on the first album, but all the tracks on 2010’s Good Old War are credited to “Good Old War.” They even let Arnold place his drum kit right up front on center stage with the cool kids, instead of relegating him to the dark shadows where drummers (and ax murderers) usually lurk.

Eagerly awaiting album #3, to see where this band has decided to take itself.