The hustle and bustle of Chinatown subdues itself into the night as Cantonese-speaking shopkeepers wind up their little theaters along the street. If you didn’t notice the group of people flocking onto the corner of Grand and Eldridge, you’d think that this Manhattan borough was done for the day. Outside Fontana’s, people are taking their IDs out, waiting in line to get in. Past the pool people, they follow the shredding and flowing music to its source in the room below and find themselves in the presence of jam band Jahman Brahman.
The place is dark and the only light comes from a bunch of girls’ light-up hula-hoops from across the room. A seemingly lost woman stumbles her way to the dance floor in her salmon colored dress and before you know it, the place is packed. There are couples holding hands, people sporting bizarre animal costumes…the works. And judging by the passionate crowd that has mustered, you would think that the band has played on this stage a hundred times before even though it’s their first time in the city.
The Asheville-based band fuels the crowd with a burst of energy as they open and it isn’t long before guitarist Casey Chanatry shreds his Paul Reed Smith guitar with Santana swag. As Brown sings the words “So much bigger than you”, the whole crowd starts singing along. Between rim shots in the dark scene and the delirious expressions on drummer Keelor’s face, the crowd cheers in excitement. Josh Loffer programs spacey animal sounds into his keystrokes, creating an elusive special atmosphere with his histrionics.
The groovy bass line pumps up the crowd as they close with “Cannonball”. Bearing traits from electronica to classic rock and jazz, the band’s unique style offers something for everyone. Whether it was the man in the suit trying to relax with his beer or the couple on a date, there is no doubt that everyone had a good time and left the venue content with what they heard.