A full day conference in the city on minimal sleep (it started eight hours after Ecstatic Dance ended) was enough of a mental transport to have me forget that I was seeing a show that night. My calendar said Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, 9 pm at American Beauty. That was enough time to grab a bite and hit the hookah bar to recharge and remember how this got on my calendar in the first place. The friend attached to the listing was busy but red-dread came to the rescue. She got off work at the same time my conference ended. After transit and some bad directions on my part, she connected with me mid-hookah and Turkish coffee. It was around then that I learned the show didn’t start until 11 pm.
Dinner was great and we passed the time in conversations ranging from website design costs, r/bandnames, Twin Peaks, and the band we were about to see. I haven’t heard a single note of theirs at this point but she had. Word is we were due for some bluegrass. That works for me.
We get to American Beauty in time to catch part of the opening band The Falco Brothers. Three of them with one on upright bass and two (the siblings) trading guitars and mandolins. As many are compelled to do while in a venue called American Beauty, they covered the Dead. We heard a terrific version of Loser and I found myself enjoying their originals as well.
Horseshoes and Hand Grenades had their share of covers as well. They added a Morning Dew to the middle of an original and played a lovely This Must Be the Place including accordion.
Their guitarist reminded me of Marcus Mumford in a few ways. Mostly in look but also in performance and intensity. Mumford was never a band I had a major interest in seeing (not as much as his one-time love interest Laura Marling) but was pleasantly surprised by how dark and intense it was (did I mention Laura Marling yet?). This was the case tonight. They played bluegrass, some folk songs, and some acapella pub tunes.
The members seemed young but together they were well composed and balanced. A single downstage mic served as the gathering point as they traded solos. To my ear, it was a bit on the high range and it would sting at times (I had forgotten my earplugs). All of this was lost on their fans. considering the band came all the way from Wisconsin, they had a loyal troupe of ex-pats up front cheering them on. They were dancing, drinking, cheering, and eager to hear the banter. Each new “thank you” from the stage brought waves of gratitude from the floor.
2 am. Just in time for one of the last trains home. I had no plans to stay up this late especially after an Ecstatic Dance workout the night before. Sleep hit me and I melted away into pillows grateful for a lovely day. Red-dread and I are next seeing the Pixies and KMFDM together. We’ll see if those scenes are any different.0 likes