I love a place with history; a place filled with stories, a place where those stories are forever embedded into the walls. Old houses, rundown hotels, mansions that haven’t been occupied in decades, and even newer buildings that are just now creating a history all their own resemble the places I’m talking about.
At the moment, the specific place I have in mind is Upstate Concert Hall. Hundreds of bands have played at this little bar/concert venue and I’m sure there will be hundreds more to follow. I haven’t seen all the bands that have come and gone, but I can imagine the stories that are held within the walls; every guitar chord, every drum beat, every crowd surf, every dancing crowd, every singing crowd. It’s all recorded in the walls, an unwritten record of the things that were, and after Monday night, three more bands have been added to the history of Upstate Concert Hall.
The screams from the crowd were as loud as the music when the venue lights dimmed and the stage lights glowed red. That first chord brought a spark of energy, like a match igniting, that would only grow and rise like a flame through the duration of the night.
Roll With The Punches.
When I Was Younger.
Those are only a few of the songs these guys from Tennessee played during their set. (When I Was Younger, the band’s first album, is musically compelling and, if you listen to the lyrics, they’re great too. The whole album is beautiful.)
As the band played, people danced to the beat and even sang along. The music washed over the crowd like waves and with each end note and every beginning note cheers erupted as everyone danced on. Even I couldn’t help tapping my foot and dancing around a little, but that’s not surprising. I love music.
After the set, I had the opportunity to speak with Caleb, who struck me as a very genuine, down-to-earth person. It always amazes me when band members can manage to stay humble. I think it’s because people are constantly falling all over them, praising them and maybe even worshiping them. It’s not hard to see how someone could grow a rockstar ego. So kudos to these guys for keeping it real.
As an end note, if you have tickets to see these guys on tour, well, you’re in for a treat. If you don’t have tickets, but have been on the fence, wondering if you should go or not, I say go for it. If you can still grab tickets to this show, I highly recommend it.
The crowd really went crazy for this band from California. (I couldn’t help but wonder how cold these guys must be, since California is much warmer then the arctic blast of the Northeast.) During the set people were continuously dancing and screaming. It was the equivalent to a dance part.
There was a group of girls standing in front of me who took this idea of a dance party to the next level. They threw up their hands and started swaying back and forth, bopping along to the beat. It was interesting to watch and see how they were absorbed by the music and, in the end, acted like they didn’t care who was around or who was watching.
The band had a huge amount of energy that flowed into the crowd and bounced right back to the stage. And yes, if anyone is wondering, they did play Gold.
What happens when you take four brothers with incredible musicality and give them instruments?
You end up with The Kongos.
The floor, the ceiling and the walls vibrated with every beat of the drum and every pluck of the bass. The notes floated into the wall and seemed to be absorbed as they were recorded, becoming part of the place’s musical history.
Before going any further I have to congratulate Johnny on rocking the accordion. Not only just accompanying his brothers, but solos as well. That’s when he seemed to really let loose. You rarely hear accordion solos, especially ones this impressive. (The last time I heard an accordion solo this good was in March 2014 by Jerome Fontamillas, on the same stage.) This is just a small taste of the sweet rock n’ roll that was brought to this show.
Come With My Now.
It’s A Good Life.
I Want To Know.
I’m Only Joking.
During I’m Only Joking, every time Jesse hit the drums, two smoke rings would blow out from the stage and float over the crowd. It was a very cool effect for the song, but at a certain point there was so much smoke around him that I wondered if it was suppose to be that way or if the smoke suddenly had a mind of its own. Either way, I was hopping he could still see and wouldn’t start coughing as he continued drumming.
This group of brothers, originally from South Africa (now living in, I believe, Arizona), have created music that blends accordion, guitar, bass and drums. I find some songs to be more drum and guitar heavy, which isn’t a negative thing at all. If anything, I love that hard, raw rock sound. Then, when you introduce an accordion to the mix, you end up with a sound you just have to hear for yourself. (Seriously, go listen.) And it would seem that, based on their reaction, the crowd agreed. Each song was a hand-clapper and foot-stomper (but of course there were those that proved more mellow).
The lighting was amazing too. Beautiful. As a photographer the lights during shows always catch my eye. Sometimes I think I’m as captivated by the lighting as I am the music. There was one song in particular where a light green fell across the drummer’s face and the way he was illuminated was simply gorgeous.
During the show Dylan announced that they will be heading back into the studio to record their third album. Following this announcement the guys played two new songs. And lets just say that if these song are any indication of what the full album will sound like, then, I believe we’re all in for a real treat.
Three more bands have come and gone, but there will be many more to follow. The walls of this venue will continue to gather stories as the days go on and I can’t wait to be part of some of them; to whiteness history in the making, to feel the music pulsate through my body as it snakes it way through the crowd, to have the opportunity to speak with some of these band members. So lets do this again and for many years to come. Lets make some history. Lets make some music.