Two bands I had yet to see, The Jauntee and Groovestick, were on the bill with The Assortment of Crayons at Red Square on March 21st. Assortment of Crayons are a solid group from New Paltz who have established themselves in the mid-Hudson Valley and are always a treat to see, but the other two bands eluded me thus far. The Jauntee have a fair amount of hype thanks to this article where they were considered potential heirs to the throne of Phish. A statement like that will perk my ears up any day, but I had to see them for myself to make a fair call. Their shows on Archive.org are good, but in person was the deciding factor.
Taking the stage quickly after Assortment of Crayons, The Jauntee started with “I Wanna Love You > J.M.O”, the latter of which was short and goofy, always a plus when a band doesn’t take the music too serious. “Mr. Murderin’ Man” had some early jam potential that built up with hypnotic guitar and keys, to the point where it was hard to tell which instrument was making what sound. Beck’s “Devil’s Haircut” wedged inside what later turned out to be the not-always-jammed “Gravity of Thought” was impressive, not just for matching the complexity of the Beck song, but putting a little twist on the song, dropping it down a tempo to create a signature sound. “My Shadow” had a dash of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” inside, an example of great band chemistry on stage – even when bassist John Loland bolted off the stage for the bathroom, the other three never missed a beat, and he was back on stage a half a minute later to fall right back into place. Impressive, but another show or two might convince me further. The Jauntee are certainly talented musicians and put on an impressive show; I’d expect their festival appearances this summer raise their bar even higher, for they are still young but the talent is already apparent to many, including myself.
Setlist: I Wanna Love You > J.M.O., Mr. Murderin’ Man, Gravity of Thought -> Devil’s Haircut -> Gravity of Thought, My Shadow > Fractal Fuck -> Let the Drummer Take One
Groovestick, an Albany quasi-supergroup features Dan Gerken of Timbre Coup on guitar, Chris Carballeira of Funk Evolution on Hammond Organ and keys and The Chronicles’ Franz Celestin on drums and percussion. Opening up with 20 minutes of “Electric Shoes” was quite impressive, giving Gerken plenty of room to shred. A salsa infusion on “Inkblot” changed the groove and ended up filling the dance floor with not-your-ordinary dancing fools: I hadn’t seen this at Red Square since perhaps Marco Benevento back in December. It was no coincidence that an organ was part of both performances.
“GSauce” rocked some blues while “Mischief” had a nice bass groove from the multi-instrumentalist Gerken, which eventually led into “Get Down on It”. A cover happy end of the show featured a Stevie Wonder sandwich of an instrumental “I Wish” (aside from vocal “Doo Doo Doo’s”) seguing fluidly into “Superstition” and back into “I Wish”. The New Deal’s “Home” ended the set while the encore featured Prince’s “Controversy” and Charles Mingus’ “Jump Monk”, with each song of the final 30-40 minutes igniting the crowd more and more. Groovestick was impressive, and paired well with The Jauntee, two acts that are must-sees next time either play in your town.
Setlist: Electric Shoes, No Time for That, Shark Bait, Inkblot, Big Foot, GSauce, Wormhole > Bakers Dozen, Mischief > Get Down on It, I Wish > Superstition > I Wish, Home
Encore: Controversy, Jump Monk