I had a great time seeing music last night. I got out at 6 then hung out at home for a bit. I was contemplating a nap when an old friend called then stopped by for a visit. Close to 9, I put on the black and headed downtown.
I was running a couple of minutes late and when I walked into Juniper at Hotel Vermont and Aaron Flinn was onstage and playing some incredible music. I grabbed a beer and a place to sit as he let it unfurl. He was playing solo with an acoustic guitar but it went through some effects and an amp and he had a pretty intense sound going, though it still sounded like a pure acoustic guitar all night. I though seeing the singer songwriter thing at Juniper might be OK, after seeing bands have to tone it down, but after that song, they asked him to tone it down and turn it down a little. He turned it down a little but still rocked the heck out of the room for the next two hours.
Most of the audience was made of people just having drinks in the lobby and not really paying attention, but a few hardy souls lent some attention and were heavily rewarded for it. His guitar playing is really intense and his hands just dance all over the guitar while hitting every note perfectly. His voice has a unique mixture of being deeply resonant and warm and inviting at the same time. He played a bunch of originals from his three albums and a bunch of new songs from his upcoming album. He tossed in fun covers with takes on Amazing Grace, Here Comes The Sun and for House Of The Rising sun he set up loop after loop until he had a full band sound and sang a beautiful version of it. He played the solo with guitar over his head and behind his back, just in case we had not noticed what a stunning player he was. As the set progressed songs like Better Angels, Names, The Wheel, and Is It Love were powerful and beautiful. Paper Tiger was in instrumental that was pretty over the top. Born A Man had a nice Johnny Cash feel and a great imitation on his voice in one part of the chorus. At one point in Dancing With My Heart he got a perfect heartbeat sound out of the guitar I Need Love was gorgeous and This Day Was Good sums up my feeling about the show. He closed the set with Raise Your Hand and did another behind the head solo and that was that. All in all it was a two hour set with no breaks and was truly stunning.
I said a quick goodbye and headed up the road. The clock at the bus station said 11:09 so I knew I was late for Barbacoa‘s 10:30 show at Radio Bean and was hoping the time was a little loose. I walked into the moderately filled room and settled in as the band rocked hard. Their psychedelic surf sound, as someone in the audience described it, was fun and fast. Jeremy Frederick‘s drumming was powerful and precise. Kirk Flanagan was locked in on bass. Bill Mullins stalked the audience and jammed out some killer riffs. It was kind of cool to watch him play guitar from every possible angle before he wandered back to the stage. I caught three or four songs including one surf rock spy song with pieces of Secret Agent Man and the Bond theme. Bill played a bit of tambourine, then when the band picked it up he used it to play slide on the guitar. It produced a cool sound but also broke a string. They rocked through the rest of the song, but then called it a night. I wish I had caught more, but there was just no way to leave Aaron’s show until the last note rang out.
After a 30+ minute switchover the room filled with college students and Binger hit the stage with a loose funky groove. They had just played about 7 hours of music at Red Square with Funkwagon, but lit into their set with gusto. They seemed to get tighter with every song. They had the crowd dancing for two hours of funky bluesy indie rock, or whatever you call the way the approach music. They mixed early originals like Cake with songs from the great album Roots In The Rabbit Hole. Buttonz, Sequoia 1 and Crow King were really nicely played. They played a ton of covers I did not know but everyone in the audience did. They played a fun and funky version of Rocky Raccoon and were joined by Aaron Burroughs, who created a new dance move in the middle section, then they effortlessly dropped it back into the song and played it out. They said they were going to play some Pink Floyd and pulled out an indie funky version of Fearless that was just brilliant. From there, it was late and I was tired, and am not sure what they played, but I bopped along and loved it. They closed with something that sounded like it was going to be Walk On The Wild Side but had different words. Either way it was pretty cool.
When the set was done, I settled up, saw the clock on the wall say 2am, and took the happy cold walk home.
Thanks for such a great night of music everyone!