As other venues closed down under threat of tornadoes in the area, The Camel on Broad Street opened its doors, and if need be it’s basement, to
As other venues closed down under threat of tornadoes in the area, The Camel on Broad Street opened its doors, and if need be it’s basement, to Radio Rubber Room Presents Live as they hosted another bi-weekly installment of free music featuring The South Bound Hounds, The New Outliers, The Cyrenaics, Recluse Raccoon, and last minute addition The Suitcase Junket.
Massachusetts native Matt Lorenz, who NPR listeners will remember from his recent performance on The Mountain Stage, was scheduled to play at Tin Pan, however, due to inclement weather we were able to snag him for a surprise opening set.
The Suitcase Junket is much more than a spectacle of instrumentation, but any attempt to describe the show without a description thereof would be impossible. Matt plucks a nylon stringed acoustic guitar, which looks as though it was made between the wars, open tuned and played with a steel slide.
He does so seated behind a drum set of his own design, employing as many as three pedals per foot to create tones as unique as the kit itself, with repurposed materials including (but by no means limited to) a dented pot, an old gas can, bent forks, a baby shoe, and even found mammal bone.
The music, which he calls Swamp-yankee music, is an all American folk blended with old school blues licks, delivered with crisp, melodic vocal tone and a playful stage presence that can make even the most crowded venue feel like a front porch. Stepping out from behind the drums, Matt made his way to the edge of the stage to end his set by serenading a hypnotized crowd, swaying and starry-eyed, with his original guitar ballad “Red Flanel Rose.
Following a brief changeover, The South Bound Hounds took the stage even as intermittent rain showers and turbulent wind battered the plate glass windows behind them. Composed of members Brandon Crist and Wyatt Baldwin, this local Rock duo has only been together since July, but they play with the cohesion of a seasoned act. Although the group self-identifies as garage rock, I would argue that their sound is a bit more nuanced.
The band’s instrumental tone is defiantly gritty rock and roll, but attention paid to lyrical style, frequently reminiscent of late Dylan, suggests a sophistication usually not attributed to the Garage genre. This attention to style was especially apparent during their re-imagination of Led Zeppelin’s’ “Gallows Pole”, a rendition that was well received but widely unrecognized according to attendees with whom I spoke about the performance.
In addition to their creative setlist, the band boasts powerful lead guitar licks delivered with a smooth style, often hanging on a single note for a brief eternity before rippling away down the fret to the next, and a no frills pocket drummer holding it all together.
As tornados touched down all around us in VA, the wind and driving rain were outmatched only by the hard driving rock anthems of The New Outliers. This Indie Rock five-top lead by Steve Snider features powerful original songs that remind us what rock and roll is all about.
When accompanied on guitar and vocals by Bret Fisher and Ryan Colton the result is a trio of rock guitars shredding in perfect balance. Meanwhile, Bass player Howard Eckstein and drummer Kevin Shell square off to create dramatic rhythm parts which create the foundation of the band’s iconic sound. Shells flashy stick work and affinity for heavy cymbal crashing keeps the crowd mesmerized and on their feet for the entirety of the performance.
The Cyrenaics kept the music going with their spacey, cerebral, style of experimental rock. I had a chance to meet up with these young men after their set for a brief interview (the complete transcript of which was unfortunately lost in a flood…of cheap whisky and more rock music).
They informed me that the name Cyrenaics refers to followers of Cyrene, a school of philosophy founded by Aristippus of Cyrene, who taught that, among other things, pleasure is the only rational aim of life. If pleasure was their goal, they certainly achieved it with this set. Despite threat of being whisked away to Oz at any moment, the house was full of enthusiastic fans while The Cyrenaics played a slightly stripped down version of the ambient indie noise-rock recordings found on soundcloud, which feature progressive, slightly off key lyrics and sounds that stretch the possibilities of conventional melody.
Outside the weather rages on but inside it feels as though the storm has passed as Recluse Raccoon fills the room with beautiful harmonies and soothing tones. I thoroughly enjoy these guys. They could play to a crowded dance hall as easily as a seated auditorium. Their psychedelic, even folky style crosses borders to reach fans of many different genres and walks of life. The boys look absolutely at home on stage and the late night crowd sways and cheers in approval.
Another successful night of free, live, local rock is on the books courtesy of RVA’s own Radio Rubber Room and The Camel on Broad Street.. Search Radio Rubber Room on Facebook for details about upcoming Free events and directions to their streaming podcast featuring live studio performances of Local Acts. Some you’ve heard of, and Some you haven’t. Visit the Camel Wednesday march 9th for the next Free installment of Radio Rubber Room Presents Live. Until then, keep rockin’ Richmond.