The silly and surreal met the seriously groovy at the 9th Annual Wintercourse. The single-night, multi-artist musical event was presented by Brooklyn electro-funk band Cousin Earth. The historic, hole-in-the-wall Knitting factory hosted the event for the fourth time in a row. This year’s Wintercourse went off with aplomb, delivering the musical goods four times over. Pennsylvania psychedelic punk band Medusa’s Disco opened things up. Additionally, Of Clocks and Clouds performed next, while the legendary jam band The Breakfast headlined the evening. Cousin Earth themselves also performed a complete set in addition to hosting the event.
Medusa’s Disco revved up the beginning of the night with an immediate smattering of fearlessly intense music. Donned in devil horns and Willy Wonka spectacles, the members whipped across head-spinning riffs and cool, classic rock-style melodies. Medusa’s Disco presented a kind of feel-so-bad-it-feels-good rock and roll. A song like “Painters Painting Paintings,” a new song from the band, gives a great example of their essence: punk rock updated sonically for the modern age, without losing the raw spirit of the genre.
Of Clocks And Clouds performed at a hometown venue in Knitting Factory. Their set received fantastic enthusiasm from the crowd. The psychedelic metal quartet tapped into some vibrant improvisation for their performance. They played a few songs that were outright inspirational in their climactic peaks. One in particular was “Who I Am,” which managed to mutate its catchy chorus and composition into a terrifically bright and uplifting jam.
Many anticipated a collaboration somewhere on this stacked lineup for Wintercourse 9. Cousin Earth’s ukulele lead Joey Calfa made that happen here in the Clocks set. He joined the band on a great version of “Hey Joe,” for which he shared in a sweet guitar shredding session with OCAC’s Tom Salgo. Calfa, for anybody who for some reason is unaware, is a Jedi on his instrument, at danger of ripping holes in time and space when he really gets going on a ukulele solo. But OCAC’s Tom and his brother Joe Salgo are confidently apt guitar players themselves, and they both delivered their own righteous lead solos back and forth.
Perhaps Cousin Earth followed the lead of Of Clocks and Clouds (who wrapped things up with Pink Floyd’s “Time”), for they opened their own performance with a take on “Great Gig In The Sky,” a rare and pretty cool choice for a set opener. Then they dove into their own music and things got groovy real fast. “Burnin’ Up For You” was a great blues-funk number that showcased the insatiable voice of the band’s lead vocalist Melissa Raye. By the time the band led the room through a meticulously played, futuristic-sounding disco rock groove, Knitting Factory took the spirit of Wintercourse 9 and ran away with it.
Prodded on by the ultimate ringmaster/troublemaker, Medusa’s Disco guitarist Wynton Huddle, the show which was musically splendid now became physically and visually joyful.
The Snowball Fight, Aliens, and More
Huddle snuck on stage in the middle of Cousin Earth’s jam and unleashed dozens of styrofoam “snowballs” into the crowd. A snowball fight occurred between crowd goers and members of Cousin Earth. The spontaneous snowball fight lasted for the entirety of their song. A unicorn making its way onto stage and men in alien and dinosaur costumes dancing in the audience threw the careless whimsy of Wintercourse over the cliff. As the craziness wound down, Cousin Earth’s members sang sweetly into the mic repeating: “Mr. Alien, please don’t kill us. Please don’t kill us, Mr. Alien.” This segment takes its name from the band’s most recent studio album, Please Don’t Kill Us, released in April of 2019.
“Okay, here’s a fish song.” For their finish, the Brooklyn ukelele-led rockers threw down an incredibly unique and formidable version of Heart’s “Barracuda”. The night pointed straight towards a high-reigning set from The Breakfast. The band consists of four unmatchable players: guitarist Tim Palmeri, drummer Adrian Tromontano, bassist Chris DeAngelis, as well as keyboard player Jordan Giangreco, who gets invited regularly to play with far too many notable bands to count. “I’d say these guys are my guilty pleasure, but I don’t feel guilty about it at all. They’re just my pleasure,” introduced Cousin Earth bassist Corey J. Feldman, who was acting as MC for the evening.
The Closing Act – Final Thoughts
Furthermore, the short set from The Breakfast was a ballistic sprint from start to finish. Those aware of the northeast jam scene know that fast and furious is the only way how to do it. No matter the time, place, or conditions, it will always be a masterclass in how to shred.
Nevertheless, the band played versions of their classic hits in this closing set, including a version of “Over Exposure”. The musically focused song, worked through varying sections of tempo and melody with the maximum tightness. The song hit at the same level of supersonic barbarity as all the other jams produced throughout the night. Lastly, fans cheered on The Breakfast’s following cover of “Teenage Wasteland” as they screamed along to the lyrics.