When the venue space is sufficient and the sound is solid in any direction you choose to wander, there’s only one more thing you need from a show, and that’s mind-blowing music. That is exactly what we got from Tom Hamilton’s American Babies show at Buffalo Iron Works on November 2nd.
Hayley Jane and the Primates delivered an impressive belting opening set built for the largest stadium. Hayley lead this group of focused musicians and commands her stage with not only a strong vocal range reminiscent at times of Nancy Wilson or the roaring 20’s but kept the audience captivated with movement, dancing and expressions. It’s when everyone watched to see what she would do next that the power of a good lead vocalist lies. You would expect Hayley, adorned with feathers in her hair, for the Primates to back her musically with jam grooves.
Yet Hayley isn’t the only thing that kept us on our toes as they moved through the music adding tinges of alternative and winding back beat flairs that make us long for what’s next. Then they played “Mama.” Hayley strapped on a washboard and everything changed. Bluegrass vocal harmonies between Hayley and the band ripped us open with tales of the mountains and we were immediately taken there. Hayley Jane and the Primates is not your average jam band and will absolutely put you on a musical roller coaster through the festivals, clubs and finally drop you off in the mountains by the fire. They were an opener well chosen for Tom Hamilton’s American Babies.
Hamilton settled the crowd in for what you may think is a set layered from his work with Grateful Dead counterparts but then something surprising happened, his music began to defy categorization. Hamilton layered his music in a way that takes you on a trip through his own musical inspirations. Tinges of classic rock, including heavy rhythms, melodic tones and even whispers of punk made their appearance throughout his set. Tom stated that through his music, he “delves deeper” and brings out his own musical influences. Yes, the basis of this group may be found in the roots of jam and trance but layered throughout is a trip through musical time as we hear riffs reminiscent of everything from Led Zeppelin, to Ramones and Tool.
Tom’s title release, “An Epic Battle Between Light and Dark” sent the audience on a tour through what Tom considered a battle not only mentally but musically as we were captivated by cool back beats and entranced by a full array of guitar solos and rhythms. If you were looking for a Grateful Dead reincarnation, you wouldn’t quite find it here but you would find something more complex. Tom Hamilton’s American Babies took the genre to a new level by adding his own personal experiences and influences, keeping the music relevant in order to give you a ride worth taking. “An Epic Tour from East to West” is hitting most major cities. To find the next stop on Tom Hamilton’s ride visit their site.