Engaging in Wintercourse: Friday Night @ the Knitting Factory

On Friday night in Brooklyn, the sixth annual “Wintercourse” took place at the Knitting Factory.  All four bands on the bill had shared practice space and admiration for one another over the years which created a love filled environment on the gloomy Inauguration Day.  Fans young and old packed the small venue before the first band entered the stage, proving that time placement had nothing to do with crowd preference or popularity.

Teddy Midnight performed first and instead of simply warming the crowd up, they hot boxed the room!  Glow sticks began lighting their way into the crowd during the first song of the evening, “Veni Veni Veni,” off their 2016 release, Velvet Blue.  In fact, the set list was heavily layered with songs off the same album, which happens to be their meatiest and most recent release.  The four members sonically tasered their fans during the nucleus of the set list when the “Primordial> Velvet Show Jam>Velvet Mist> Tree-O-Tree” combination was played for the first time.  Adam Magnan on drums teamed up with Sean McAuley on keys to recreate my childhood in what I can only describe as the theme music from Crusin’ USA for Nintendo 64.  Sean Silva added some fuzzy textures by means of the bass and synth throughout the notable jam that lasted for the better half of the set.   Guitarist Wiley Griffin announced their final song to the dismay of the audience as “Air BND” followed them off the stage.

The “Ukulele progressive rock band,” Cousin Earth, was the group that I was most excited to see on the bill solely based on the genre description posted on the website.  The five-piece consists of Joey Calfa on ukulele, Nate Searing on drums, Corey J. Feldman on Ubass, Tara Lawton on melodica and keys and Terry Brennan on percussion.  All of the members handled vocals during the gender blending set that consisted of originals and well-known covers.  “Point of No Return” off the 2015 self-titled EP started the set and acted as the padding for the first cover of the night, “Yellow Submarine” by an English band called The Beatles.  The spacey “Alive” was up next followed by the reggae-influenced “Train Luck> Inspector Gadget Theme.”  Only a handful of songs had been executed and I could already tell that their eclectic sound mixed with the funny, yet thought-provoking lyrics had abducted the room for the duration of their time on stage.  My favorite part of the set was the appropriately placed “Another Brick In The Immigration Wall” which mashed up iconic Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin songs into a sing-a-long for the entire venue.  Earlier in the day, an unmasked Darth Vader was sworn into the Oval Office, leaving me with a pit in my stomach that only comedy and good music could remedy. Thanks to Cousin Earth, I was able to leave our solar system for a while.  As a first time Earthling follower, the group reminded me of a new creation from Taco Bell… it may not have been what I was expecting, but I ate it up and would absolutely order it again.

Voted the “Top 10 Best” AND “Top 10 Worst Names for a Band” in 2016 by CMJ, the jamtronica quartet, Space Bacon, hit the ground running with an almost 20-minute “Wolves” and even with minor technical difficulties, I was shocked to learn that this was their first time performing this beast live.  In fact, three of the four songs in their Wintercourse performance were Space Bacon virgins, which made the performance an instant classic set for the up-and-coming funky-electronica group.  They transitioned into the commonly played “Jupiter” as Sam Crespo on drums sped up the tempo and created a rave inside the tiny Factory.   “Ice Planet” contained elements of trance and hard rock as the band seamlessly segued from one genre to the other. Kevin LeGall’s bass joined paths with Chris Gironda’s keys to knit together a labyrinth of danceable delight.  Guitarist Jack Willard asked, “Do you guys want to hear new shit or old shit?”  The crowd began calling out for different fan favorites before Willard pronounced, “F*ck you guys, we are doing new shit,”  as they launched into “Prologue.” By far the wordiest tune they played on Friday, this new track was welcomed by the cult-like Baconators and at times had a complex Phishy vibe to it.  Don’t let the short and sweet set list fool you on paper; this thing had fangs, horns and some kick-ass moves.

Chromatropic finished off the festivities with a unique jazz-fusion jam session spanning their career and highlighting their newest release, Abundance.  The frequently played “Bloom” was tackled early on after transitioning out of a crowd-pleasing intro jam.  One day when they release a Greatest Hits album, this track will make the cut due to its smooth sailing peaks and valleys.  “Habanero” was the first song from the new album and one of my favorites considering I’m all about that bass that Moses Margel is slapping.  Each member gets his time to shine during this spicy instrumental capped off by a Danny Caridi keyboard solo that will leave you in search of water.  Just as it seemed the band couldn’t get any hotter, they segued into the second half of “The Abundance of Elements” where Andrew Carton showed off his impressive and intricate guitar skills.  Mark Potter on midi and drums peppered in samples during the third one off Abundance entitled “Glove.”  The soulful and funky jazz piece is part-Vulpeck, part-Thievery Corporation and part The Chainsmokers?  You read that correctly.  While a high school cheerleader may call “Closer” by The Chainsmokers, “so 2016,” Chromatropic was able to incorporate the cover right into their music and it fit like a glove.

The Brooklyn jam band scene is currently growing at an alarmingly satisfying rate and Friday night in the funkiest of boroughs, I was reminded that America continues to get greater every day.  While these four bands may be fighting for the same cause, to make people dance, they are in no way clones of each other.  Through their diversity and gender bending identities, they were able to come together and turn a surreal day into a sublime night.

Teddy Midnight Setlist: Veni Veni Veni, Turkish Silva, Trap Haus, Primordial > Velvet Slow Jam > Velvet Mist > Tree-O-Tree*, Air DNB

*Primordial through Tree-0-Tree first time played segue

Cousin Earth Setlist: Point of No Return>Yellow Submarine@>Point of No Return, Alive, Train Luck>Inspector Gadget, When the Dinosaurs Come Back from Outer-space!, Super Fun Laser Beams, I Got This, Another Brick in the Immigrant Wall$, Capricorn on the Cob

@ Beatles cover, ! BELT original, $ Led Zeppelin & Pink Floyd mash-up

Space Bacon Setlist: Wolves*^> Jupiter (end), Ice Planet*, Prologue*

*First time played, ^ bass malfunction, audible’d trio jam

Chromatropic Setlist: Intro> Bloom, Habanero > The Abundance of Elements@>Gaia, Glove> Closer*> Glove

@ Second half only, * The Chainsmokers cover

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