Rubblebucket came to downtown Albany’s The Hollow Sunday night, infusing a typically low-key evening with high energy and a whole lot of funk. Accompanied by Brooklyn-based dance quartet Body Language, both bands had a hand in making sure that those who attended came out of their Sunday night football food comas.
Body Language kicked off the night at around 9pm and there were more people than one would expect for a Sunday. The front dance floor was packed pretty tightly, with people spilling out into the back portions of the bar. From the beginning, lead singer Angelica Bess emanated a really interesting stage presence. Sporting tie-dye leggings and a black crop top, her hair braided into long cables cascading to her waist, she pantomimed a lot of the lyrics as she sang. Bess, who also plays the glockenspiel (an instrument similar to a xylophone, but with higher pitched sounds) has a voice that ranges in style and possesses an ethereal quality. Body Language played an eclectic mix of instruments, including the tambourine and cowbell, and their musical style ranged from soul to pop. They also had a disco dance flare that had the crowd contorting themselves into dance moves that were as different as the instruments the band played. With Bess’ sultry voice and that R&B sound, if their music was truly translated into body language, they would be saying “come hither.” Body Language kept the mood light and upbeat and had everyone on their feet. They definitely set the stage for what was to come.
Rubblebucket who is on tour promoting their new album, Survival Sounds, played a slew of new songs including “My Life”, “On the Ground”, “Carousel Ride”, “Major Roxy”, and “Origami”. The new songs drift from the fun and fanciful aspect of Rubblebucket and delve a little deeper into real life and have a bit of a harder sound. They’re a little more hard rock and possess more electronic undertones with “Origami” being the most upbeat. Rubblebucket, whose shows are half concert half performance art, can sometimes border on gimmicky, but are ultimately fun and whimsical. While introducing “Origami”, the adoration of the fans was apparent as a fan yelled out “I love you Kal!” and she yelled back “I love you too!” The level of interactivity between the band and the crowd is interesting and something you don’t see at a lot of shows. During “Origami”, Traver requested that the crowd yell out the chorus, with her belting out the question “Why can’t it always be fun?” and the crowd yelling back, “always, always, always!” It definitely got people moving their feet, with Traver coming off stage and starting a soul train with the audience.
Although they are promoting their new album, they didn’t just stick to new songs. They played old favorite “Came Out of a Lady” off of Omega La La that saw the entire horn section coming down to play in the crowd, including Traver who was playing saxophone. That was definitely one of the highlights and had the audience jumping up and down with their hands in the air. They also played “Patriotic”, which is off their Save Charlie EP, and upon introducing it, Traver proclaimed that “it’s a song about being yourself.” From there, they played “Carousel Ride”, and with lyrics like “when all the strongest winds are blowing my way/and the reaper comes to take my breath away…I’ll dance in the fire and I’ll do it again,” it perfectly matched Traver’s hauntingly beautiful voice. “Carousel Ride” definitively showcased Rubblebucket’s penchant for art by having someone walk around in a faceless furry creature costume whose head was made out of pink fabric roses that had leaves and ivy running through it. This creature is featured on their album cover, as well as in the music video for the song, bringing a different aspect of their art to their concert.
Rubblebucket played straight through without a set break, ending in a superjam with Angela Bess from Body Language playing the glockenspiel. The entire band came onto the floor parading around the bar like a marching band gone rogue. The last couple of minutes of their set found trumpet player Alex Toth playing on tables by the merch booth along with Traver on saxophone. When it comes down to it, Rubblebucket is full of incredibly talented musicians whose sound works well together for being a larger band. Seeing them play is an experience in and of itself aside from the music. It can definitely get weird, but if you haven’t seen them before, they come highly recommended.