Monday, April 27, 2009
Family Fun Night!, or: the Spinto Band w/ the Sin City Band, or: My most legitimate blog post yet
I enjoy going to shows more than anything else, and that's saying something in a world that offers pornography and foie gras. My community, however, has for years had rather limited options for live music.
So obviously I was thrilled when I was discovered in January that a new concert venue would be opening up not only in Kennett Square, but 2 blocks from my house. The Kennett Flash promised "the best national, regional, and local recording artists live in Historic Kennett Square". Sounds good to me.
Four months later, my attendance record at the flash included nought but two open mic nights. Turns out $15 is a lot to drop on an artist that I've never heard of. And, unfortunately, with all the great music constantly coming out these days, local bluegrass bands haven't exactly been on my radar. And thus on Friday, the locally-born and locally-loved Spinto Band, being the first artist on the Flash's schedule who I was at all familiar with (and who recently celebrated Record Store Day with an instore performance at the fantastic Rainbow Records in Newark, DE), put on my first actual concert at the Flash.
The show was billed as "A Family Affair": the fathers of a few Spinto Band-members opened with their group The Sin City Band. The Sin City Band enjoys tonk of the honky persuasion. A fun, sing-a-long set, the band covered old country standbys while mixing in some crowd-pleasing, local-referencing originals. The pinnacle of the set, though, was the family get-together. The Spinto Band came out to help finish off their papas' show with a rousing medley of "Shake, Rattle and Roll" and "Shortnin' Bread".
The Spinto Band took the stage for their set less than fifteen minutes later. Instantly noticeable onstage was a small, guitar-shaped piñata with a "Happy Birthday" balloon attached. I assumed, obviously, that it was a band member's birthday. It turns out it was the band's birthday--they have just completed 10 years as a group. I was quite surprised, as these fellows are certainly no older than their mid 20s. It turns out the whole "fathers in a band together" thing got them playing music with each other at an early age. I had no clue they had been around so long; I guess my previous assertion that they were "the first artist on the Flash's schedule who I was at all familiar with" was a bit of a stretch.
To celebrate the occasion, the band decided to pepper throughout their set rarely played tunes from earlier in their twee-tastic discography, which I was unable to wholly appreciate due to my lack of intimate familiarity with the band and which I only was aware of due to the fact that the band said so. But I felt like I was witnessing something rare despite those drawbacks, especially when they played "I Saw the Spider", a 50 second, 5 word (they replace "saw" with "killed" in the second verse) drone that has never been performed live before.
A high-energy show throughout, the meager corner in the Flash set aside as a "dance floor" was surprisingly well utilized. The band kept a good pace, alternating vocals between guitarist/lutist Nick Krill and bassist/kazooist Thomas Hughes. With his ridiculous smile and spazzy dancing, Hughes is certainly the more enthusiastic and energetic of the two, while Krill is a more natural and engaging performer. Hughes' entertainment is obvious and more instantly amusing, but Krill keeps the show grounded. And hell, Krill's songs are just better. Admittedly, I make that statement based only on hearing the songs performed live that night: the only tune I knew going in was "Oh, Mandy" (which was ace).
But, as with the opening, the definite highlights of the night arose when the two generations shared the stage. The Sin City Band's Scott Birney and Steve Hobson each made brief, much appreciated appearances during the set, and the show climaxed when both took the stage for a rendition of Van Morrison's "Gloria".
So the show was surprisingly high energy and engaging for a venue filled with seated tables. But the atmosphere alone at the Flash would be enough to pull me back more than a few times this summer. Just don't expect me to pay $8.50 for that cheese plate again.
photo credits: my pa (which I suppose adds to the whole family theme)