At the Wax Museum last night, it was East meets West, boy meets girl as the Roches split an evening's entertainment with the Riders in the Sky. It turned out to be a cordial encounter between two eclectic ensembles, played out on a common ground of wry humor, ethereal harmonies and acoustic integrity.
The Riders, who could pass for the Grandsons of the Pioneers, rounded up an electric campfire, an undernourished tumbleweed, a cactus and a bright collection of authentic western songs, many of which are their own recent creations. That's because the Riders have absorbed the innocence, affable charm and directness of the pioneer era as it was refracted in countless Hollywood cowboy films. Their set ran from yodels to trail tips to coyote calls to cheek-slapping in harmony.
If the Riders revitalize western mythology through Zane Grey imagery, the Roche sisters exemplify Eastern Ms.-ology as seen in the broad strokes of Jules Feiffer. The Riders may be at home on the range; the Roches are equally at home with the slightly deranged characters who drift through their songs--most certainly including themselves. Sounding like the Andrews Sisters singing Leonard Cohen confessionals, the Roches never allowed their hypnotic harmonies to obscure their lacerating lyrics. Happily, they tempered their work with great humor and a zany stage presence that delighted a sell-out crowd.