Last night I broke my no-gig streak (hey, times are tight!) to head all the way to Brooklyn to hear not just one, nor two, but three big bands! This was a show I could not pass up! It started with Travis Sullivan's Bjorkestra, which I had somehow managed to never have heard despite my desire to do so, followed by internet buddy Andrew Durkin's (aka @uglyrug) Industrial Jazz Group, of which I was hipped to a couple of years ago but never heard live as they hail from Portland. The night was capped by Darcy James Argue's Secret Society, whom I've heard a ton, but always enjoy!
I was a little late getting here and entered in the middle of "The Hunter," which I was very happy to recognize! I don't know a lot of Bjork tunes, for some reason just never got into them the way some people do. But a couple of years ago friend and jazz pianist Kelly Powers, who is a huge Bjork fan and plays occasionally with the Bjorkestra was kind enough to burn me three Bjork CDs which still make my rotation. She must have given me the best ones; I was pleasantly surprised that I knew the majority of the tunes the orchestra played.
I was also very pleased with the quality of the band. They were well rehearsed and super tight- solos were great and Becca Stevens' voice clear and affective. This is definitely a professional group who takes the reorchestration of who some would consider a pop artist's music very seriously, and it works! I'm glad I finally got to hear them play and look forward to my next listen.
Next up was the group, I must admit, I was most anxious to hear! I've been reading Andrew Durkin's blog for as long as I've had my own, and have my own personal mix of the Industrial Jazz Group on a playlist for the days I need that extra boost. I knew going in that the IJG was not my grandfather's big band, but I had NO idea the show they'd put on!!
As you can hopefully see from the picture above, the band is almost the normal size but rather than sitting conventionally in chairs, they all stand. Which makes sense as they all practically dance away each tune, taking a cue from the group's most energetic duo of singers. I'm not sure I have ever seen a band that uses the word "jazz" in their name having so much fun on stage! They were wild, they were crazy, and all the while, very musical.
Yet, I don't think that Brooklyn crowd knew exactly how to handle the IJG. Oh they were into it, as was evidenced by their hearty applause, but it was a stark contrast between the crazy on-stage antics and the frozen, I dare say confused audience. For not the first time in my life I wished I was one of those people that was comfortable to be the first to yell and scream and feed off the energy of the performers. But alas, I stayed shy within the sea of passive listeners.
This is a group I would love to see again on their home turf where I am willing to bet the fan base gives back the energy that the band so generously emits.
Last to grace the stage was the group that I believe the majority of the crowd were waiting patiently to hear, Darcy James Argue's Secret Society. Fresh off their debut CD release, the band was tight with the prerequisite killing solos. There is already new material the band is playing which I'm sure will be available for download on their website before too long. I should also mention I saw the Secret Society's in-house photographer Lindsay Beyerstein (who also runs her own political blog Majikthise) taking tons of pics through out the night so look again to Darcy's blog as I anticipate those pics to be posted, too.
Speaking of blogs... last night was the night to put faces with virtual friends! Apparently all the NYC based bloggers and tweeters were out last night! While I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with a few (@uglyrug, @numinousmusic, @theloom, @darcyjamesargue) turns out lots others where there too, including @nycjazz, @fullyaltered, and @arodjazz. I wish I had been able to say hello to those guys too but I guess the obvious downfall to knowing faceless people via the internet is that you are unlikely to recognize them in person. In fact, I probably would have had to introduce myself as "d0nnatr0y" instead of Kelly Fenton! And while I did my fair share of tweeting and twitpic-ing the night away, I am sans smart phone and had no way of viewing other simultaneous tweets.
Though I was not really surprised to hear the great sets of music or to see jazz buddies among the crowd, I was completely shocked by the huge audience of anonymous faces that started the evening out and STAYED till the end! I have to assume Search and Restore, who helped sponsor the event is to credit for this. They did after all have this kick-ass poster that I admit I only saw online, but obviously did the trick!
I believe Darcy is also to be credited with the evening's success for helping to organize everything. Whatever the magic involved, I hope it happens again! Perhaps there is something exciting about the prospect of hearing 3 bands basically for the price of one. Or maybe its the old trick of pulling fan bases. Either way, I was heart warmed to see so many supporters for what, most of the time, feels like a dying music.