Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bamboo Spork, John Ross Boyce and His Troubles, Tambalka and Palankeen @ the Red Room (3/14/13)

I'd known of Bamboo Spork for a while: the group's co-founders, Doc Woolf and Matt Vorhies, play in other groups for which I have great affection (Fleet Street Klezmer Band and Storie Grubb and the Holy Wars, respectively).  However, I'd never seen them before, which gave me a good reason to check out this show.  It helped as well that the bill featured John Ross Boyce and His Troubles, a Utah band I'd never heard of.

I counted about thirty people when I got to the Red Room.  The crowd would build to about thirty-eight as the night wore on.  Not bad for a Thursday, really.

Palankeen (formerly Mostecelo) opened the show.  This set was a very pleasant surprise: I didn't even know that they were playing until the door man told me.  I once compared Rebeca Suarez's plaintive melodies and thoughtful, plainspoken lyrics to Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen.  With her bandmates' somber, droning keyboard and gently booming drums backing her up, however, she made me think more of Nico.  Or rather, she made me think of what I wish Nico sounded like.  Suarez's solemn vocals were in excellent form, and her newer songs "Slender" and "Baruch and the Northern Lights" convinced me that I really oughtta read Jude the Obscure and His Dark Materials.  Haunting, idiosyncratic, gorgeous.

Random sidenote: I spotted my old Aikido sensei, Kimbal Anderson, in the crowd just before this set.  I saw him chatting with Rebeca Suarez afterwards.  Man, Boise is a small town...

Tambalka played next.  I know next to nothing about flamenco music, so I really don't feel qualified to write about this group.  I will say, however, that I thought that their rippling guitars, percolating drums and light, gliding vocals got a good groove going.  The audience seemed to feel the same way: a handful of folks danced with varying levels of skill but with a uniformly high level of enthusiasm.

John Ross Boyce and His Troubles played next.  It was too bad that, due to Treefort restrictions, JamesPlaneWreck couldn't have played this show.  They'd have fit in nicely with this group's Tom Waits-esque mix of lumbering stomps, alt-roots tunes, slashing violin, fiery guitar and friendly, howled vocals.  Subject matter included atheism, booze, death, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  Their muscular groove got the crowd boogieing and roaring with applause.  Brawny, charming stuff.

Bamboo Spork closed out the night.  This set had some problems with fluctuating sound (first I couldn't hear the vocals, then I couldn't hear the bass), and the band seemed a little stiff and lackluster at first (in their defense, they didn't start playing until after midnight).  Still, their winsome accordion, gently urgent bass, fluttering woodwinds and alternately jaunty and wistful tunes held considerable appeal throughout.  Also, they did pick up steam as they went along.  The crowd had dwindled to sixteen by the time that they played, but at least John Ross Boyce and his mates stuck around and got good and rowdy (dancing, jostling each other).

You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online.

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