Why see one show to end a week-long Music Marathon when you can see three? That was the plan on this final day of seeing music of all varieties across the Capital District over the course of a week. And being Tulip Fest weekend, what a better way to start things out than music in the sun with hundreds of fans in Washington Park?
Show 1: Even though I didn’t really have intentions to go to Tulip Fest this year, you couldn’t beat the weather today and I was in need of some fresh live music that I had been introduced to by 102.7 WEQX. If I’m doing a Music Marathon, I may as well hit the first free city-wide music event of the year.
Hitting the WEQX stage, I missed Flagship but caught Joywave and The Kooks. Even though the Kooks were the headliner, I found Joywave to be way more intriguing and appealing overall. Joywave has a bassist who sounds like and has an on stage persona akin to Flea, a keyboardist and drummer who give a Pet Shop Boys meets Duran Duran base for guitarist Joseph Morinelli and singer Daniel Armbruster (who sounds like Bono) to build a song from. It was Nine Inch Nails with post-hipster vocals, especially on “In Clover”. Joywave is one of the best discoveries this week and being from Rochester doesn’t hurt either.
The Kooks, from England, took the stage at 4pm with what passes for pop rock in the UK, and while I’ve heard it on the radio and enjoyed it, hearing them live was just like listening to the radio. Maybe we all had too much sun, but it felt like snooze rock for the first half hour, then picked up quite a bit with “Westside” and “Junk of the Heart”. The first track off their latest album Listen, “Around Town” was the highlight of the set, coming late when it should have led. Hints of Beck, INXS, Talking Heads and even Michael Fitzpatrick (Fitz and the Tantrums) were found throughout, but overall it felt like good but not great inspirational pop rock.
Show 2: Flat tire and car issues = drove back home after only making it 2 miles towards Upstate Concert Hall. I was pissed to be missing this show, especially a metal show with 4 bands would really round out the music I saw this week. Bummed to miss Dark Matter and Crown the Empire in particular. Ah well, something was bound to go wrong.
Show 3: Taking the bus to The Hollow for Kopecky, the post-Tulip Fest show was good poppy American rock from Nashville, but the real draw tonight was the second show from Best Good Frends, a group made up of Mihali Savoulidis (guitar) and Zdenek Gubb (bass) from Twiddle, Kenny Brooks (sax) from Ratdog, Ryan Clausen (drums) and John Dobbs (keys). This is a new side-project of Twiddle and the venue was packed with great anticipation. Best Good Frends took a song to launch a jam from, explored that jam without rushing before returning to the original number. Kenny Brooks took the lead on an early funk jam that kicked off the night, while Justin Henricks (Beau Sasser’s Escape Plan, Groovestick) joined on guitar for “Boogie on Reggae Woman” and the jam that ensued. Sublime’s “What I Got” started the second set and Mihali and Kenny went back and forth to build the jam to a head. “Folsom Prison Blues” led into a weird circus calliope like jam with many asking “What was the name of that song?” yet it was all improv, right down to the really weird lyrics that seemed to come out of nowhere. The encore of “Brown Eyed Woman” found more fun inside the framework of the song and continued the dancing that had only paused for setbreak. This was a real treat and hopefully more shows are planned in the future in the Northeast.
Final tally: Nine shows at eight venues seeing a total of 17 bands, all in seven days time. There’s a ton of music in the greater Albany area, and some very pleasant surprises in store if you just go out and see live music!