They came in a bus, and snuck through the stage door at about 9:45pm.
At $20 a ticket, I was impressed at the turnout. In the Rogue Valley, it can be hard to get a crowd out, under almost any circumstances. Maybe Talent has a better roster of 20-somethings to come out on a Monday night, but it also feels like a right-time, right-place kind of thing: the band is in rare tour-form, and the new owners of the Talent Club have done much to attract better talent in recent months. As it turns out, we are in for a treat.
A band on constant tour can pull something off like this: instant, palpable energy, and a roots-y feel that is like catnip to the hippy-punks, skaters, and errant SOU-dropouts that put down their hard-earned dough for 2 sets of sweet escape from the valley experience. Just like the Spring thaw is a welcome one, the people here are all ready to dance, and take part in the ritual of visceral expression. Some are a bit more lively, and some stand and sway like trees in the wind - yet there is a sense of solidarity to the performance, and as I run around taking photos, and weaving between people and drinks and doors that are swinging open I feel supported by the collective spirit. We are one with the music, and soon enough the players come off stage and join the people on the dance floor.
First it was the horn section, blowing loud on the trombone and baritone saxophone, and singing into the mic inside the bell of the horn, giving it that street vibe, like a minute from Mardi Gras. The songs and set-list order are carefully assembled, the moments feel both spontaneous and obviously rehearsed. At its essence, the vibe here is equal parts tribalism and carnival show: it is a sense of team yet they are the freaks; they play on their backs like turtles, they bounce to their own beat like Left Sharks, they are unconscionably loud and probably stoned; this is the type of hedonistic self-sabotage that just feels right every once in a while.
Full disclosure: from my years in Los Angeles, I happen to know Shawn Eckels, who plays guitar with Andy Frasco & the UN. His brother and I were in a band together years ago, called Paper Sun. It was great to see him, and I was impressed by the Talent Club - both by how they were able to promote the show, and because the performance went smoothly, and the sound was good. What more can you ask.
I think new owner Kandice Daly and head of booking and promotion Larry Coble have done a great job breathing new life into a classic Talent location - Monday night was a hell of a party. And I hear that the 2nd set was on fire.
Mental note: bring ear plugs next time.
This video was taken with a DJI Osmo Pocket.
Photos were taken with a Pixel 3.