The Wrens first played the Talking Head in downtown Baltimore 11 years ago, and no one showed up. The New Jersey rock band returned Saturday night, and the place was sold out. Fans squished against the walls of the tiny downtown club and lined the stairs to the second floor.
When the band - which plays its live shows fast and loud and messy - launched into the song "Faster Gun," bass player Kevin Whelan tackled singer Charles Bissell to the ground in a bear hug, and the crowd seamlessly stepped in to sing the lyrics.
It was that kind of a night. Bissell admitted the band had not rehearsed much lately - most of the members have day jobs - but it lent the performance an energy and spontaneity that can be rare in live music. And, in the intimate confines of the Talking Head, the raw emotion of the Wrens' music burst to the surface.