Walking down the sidewalk of Albany’s Madison Avenue, a laundromat and Tierra Farm Store are the book ends to a timeless, historic neighborhood theater, complete with old school signage and black typeface letters that spelled out “Consider the Source Tonight” above head. The sci-fi, Middle Eastern fusion band hailing from NYC that has garnered quite the following from the Jam community, awaits in a back room of the small Madison Theater, ready to offer fans an unforgettable experience of two sets: one acoustic and one electric.
If you’ve seen Consider the Source, I’m sure it’s been at your average sized music venue or perhaps one of many festivals that roll on through summertime. In rare, more intimate cases, CTS brings an acoustic set to the forefront of the stage. Back at Wild Woods 2014, 200+ people fell victim to a beautiful, serene performance that found its viewers seated on the ground, watching in awe. The trio has also surrendered an interesting choice of acoustic Radiohead sets to their fans. Madison Theater, on the other hand, would witness a cozy performance in a back room of a theater, able to hold no more than 100 people. Seats weren’t filled, but those who came prepared for the show with a drink in hand were ready to relinquish all control and step into an inter-dimensional journey of cerebral intellect and emotional engagement.
An unplugged, acoustic set is not what you’d expect from quite a powerhouse of a trio but that’s what makes the performance all the more distinctive. John, Jeff and Gabriel emerged from behind a curtain, which they referenced as a “hobbit hole,” towards the back of the stage, mirrored with two large, probably locally crafted paintings on each side. Just three rows back and even still, you were at their very feet, able to get a close up view of an array of atypical instruments and a minimalist yet captivating stage set up.
After quick banter and brief introduction with a small yet devoted crowd, they launched into acoustic set one with a prelude of harmonies that seemed straight out of Game of Thrones, paired with the stylings of rhythmic African drumming. From the get-go, it was clear to see each band member truly work with and bounce off one another in the heat of the musical moment. The atmosphere made it easy to get a closer look into their onstage operations, as they displayed top-notch eye contact and ability to follow and lead one another at the snap of a finger or the strike of a drum. Aside from the technicalities, their crescendos were master-level, able to give off sound as grand as a full-piece band or as soft as a mouse.
Song two, a Turkish tune by the name of “You Go Squish Now,” brought a double neck guitar to the stage– one Gabriel Marin is known to handle with integrity. The wails and cries of the double neck drew intense emotion from Marin’s face and demanded the attention of all in its path. Next up was an improvisational “Good Point, Wandering Bear” which found the group conquering their halting breaks and impeccable timing. In the midst of all of this, they cracked jokes in between song changes and asked each other to borrow instrument tuners, bringing us all back down to planet earth to realize that aside from their unmistakable talent, they’re just like the rest of us, if even for a second.
A fan-appreciated Star Trek reference kicked off song five, titled “There are Four Lights,” which found John exchanging banjos for basses and claiming “I forget how to play this one, who starts?” The last song of set one introduced the first major hand drum solo in the middle of “Tihai for the Straight Guy,” which is typically very electric and offered a captivating Dan Bau solo. Consider the Source makes you feel like you’re on a journey of self-discovery, inner-confusion and triumph as your passing through dimensions of time and space, only to be spit out where you started, feeling more enlightened than before.