Photos and review by Brennan Fischer
Greensky Bluegrass’ return to the Westcott Theater on Wednesday April 24th brought fans and newcomers out of their weekday monotony and into the rich and colorful world of modern bluegrass music, one where tradition meets novelty and classic themes meet spontaneous virtuosity. Greensky epitomizes this history-steeped and yet constantly evolving genre. Their performances are deeply rooted in classic Americana, while their sound continues to push the experimental envelope, incorporating psychedelia, jamband and even classic rock themes.
The members of Greensky Bluegrass collaborate beautifully. They fluidly trade off leadership roles, as each musician is a solid soloist in their own right. Whether it was Michael Alren Bont twanging away in chord-driven, texturally tasty banjo or Paul Hoffman ripping through lightning fast licks on the mandolin, Greensky has no slackers in its ranks. Their persistent boot-stomping groove, multi-layered composition and improvisational genius never failed to keep the crowd dancing, whooping with joy or contemplatively ‘tripping out’ on their spacier tunes. Their self-effacing light show often lit the performers sparsely, while directing pattern and color primarily to the stage background and the walls of the theater. This approach demonstrated the band’s submission to the collective sound, rather than focusing viewers’ attention on the artists themselves as individual performers.
The band’s set was long and diverse, complete with tracks from their newest and most critically acclaimed album 2001’s Handguns, cover songs including a “Whole Lotta Love” verse for the Zepp-heads out there and a guest appearance by one of the guitarists from Greensky’s opener, Fruition. Overall, Greensky Bluegrass sustained a driving energy that held crowd attention and enjoyment throughout their performance.