One of the greatest things about seeing a band numerous times is the ability to witness the progression they make over the years. And if you see the band frequently, it will feel gradual and natural, but if it’s been a while since you’ve seen them, the improvement can be striking. Case in point: Jimkata’s performance at the Hollow on May 20.
The Ithaca-based electro-rock band tours nationally and is a festival frequenter. For years, Albany has had the pleasure of watching them grow. But for some of us who hadn’t seen them in awhile, their show at the Hollow Bar and Kitchen on May 20 was like seeing a long-lost childhood friend all grown up. The resemblance is there, but they’ve metamorphosed into an adult.
The “party-funk” duo the Hornitz kicked things off at what would be a night of exceeded expectations. These two, known as “Friendship” and “Stoo,” use loops to create the sound of a full band. The tenor sax and bass trombone made for a funky throw down. Fans were more than willing to sing along to “Overnight Success” (Dance with Anyone) as well as a playful rendition of Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.”
When the three men comprising Jimkata took the stage, it was clear from the first note that this is not the young band we once remembered. The vocal strength of frontman Evan Friedell has matured, and the sincerity in his demeanor and relatable lyrics are enough to create goosebumps. While in general Jimkata is not known for lengthy jams, Aaron Gorsch was given several opportunities to really let lose. And although the group certainly does not need to rely on the jams (and doesn’t), Gorsch shows that they’re more than an electronic, pop-infused rock band—there is talent on both the song and the ability to improvise. The analog synthesized tones recalled the sounds of the ’80s (without the corniness); the bass was heavy and the lights pulsating, and drummer Packy Lunn beat fire, adding to the intensity—the experience was thrilling.
They played favorites from years ago off of their 2012 fan-funded album, Die Digital, including “Nightshade,” “Chain Store” and “Electronic Stone,” all of which left old fans with a rush of emotion; some with their eyes closed, but still grooving to the music. Having just released their latest album, In Motion, the band played several tracks from it like “Innocence” and “Wild Ride,” (see the official music video above) a song that gives goosebumps and might make you put your arm around your best friend and say, “I love you, man,” as seen firsthand during this Albany show. After the crowd begged Jimkata to return to the stage with the syllable-pointed chant of “Jim-Ka-Ta, Jim-Ka-Ta,” they returned for a three-song encore that featured “I Won’t Let You Down” off of the new album, “ Electronic Stone” that got serious crowd engagement and “Roll with the Punches.”
Having gone from four members to three has not hindered their performance. What was once a “pretty good” electronic rock band has grown into a beautifully powerful, multi-layered core of matured musicians. If you haven’t seen these guys in awhile, make a point to do so in the near future. You’ll be proud.