This past weekend, the Boulevard Cafe served as the backdrop for the Greyhounds’s debut as a trio. The group, currently composed of guitarist Andrew Trube, keyboardist Anthony Farrel, and drummer Nick Pencis vowed to continue touring as a trio after the recent departure of bassist Jay McHenry, due to reasons of a personal nature. While it was obvious that the Greyhounds are still finding their footing, in this new context (Farrel handling bass duties on keys), their enthusiasm and musicianship eventually prevailed.
Scheduled to play two nights, Friday August, 17 and Saturday August, 18, there was apparently a booking SNAFU between the Boulevard Café and the Greyhound’s booking agent and both opening acts were booked for the same evening, leaving the Greyhound’s to play an abbreviated set on Friday. While both opening acts -- Chicago based 1000 Vertical Ft and Recycled Future out of Milwaukee -- were competent and enjoyable, it was easy to discern that the majority of people in were there to see the Greyhounds break new ground. And the anticipation mounted as the night wore on, for the Greyhounds did not take the stage until nearly 12:45 AM, but played until 2:10 AM. From the start, they launched into a groove with an immediacy that lasted the entire one hour twenty-five minute set and set the stage for night two, when they would perform two full sets without the benefit of an opening act.
Around 11:10 PM on Saturday night, the crowd speckled with a few familiar faces from the night before, the Greyhounds took the stage. The band appeared much more relaxed and eased into a nice groove to open the show, but this did not set the tone, for the band had a few surprise aces up their sleeve, and a joker, that they weren’t even aware of until he walked in the door. Andrew Trube’s electric personality and right-on fretwork enticed the crowd to get up and dance early on. While Farrel’s swirling keyboard flourishes provided both that barrelhouse boogie woogie piano/organ tremolo sound and the deep low-end rubber-band bass groove, and Pencis’ funky surefire drumming laid down a solid back beat that everyone could dance to.
They put out some hard rocking funk infused grooves, some smoldering hip pumping jams, and held them, stretched them, working the crowd. Some highlights include “Sunday Afternoon” and the audience participation song “Booty” with it’s deep swelling groove and bawdy incantation. Toward the end of the first set, Sugar Blue was invited onstage and played a couple of beautifully inventive harmonica solos over a rocking instrumental number. Then to wind up the set, the Greyhound’s choose the extremely wild combo of “Voodoo Child” entwined inside “Sing a Simple Song” that was incredibly strange and familiar at the same time. It was a blast watching each band member and Sugar Blue take extended solo’s before cycling the tunes back around inside-out and outside-in.
After a set break that was just beginning to hint at being too long, the Greyhounds returned. They opened the second set with a massive version of “Beggar’s Canyon” that really rocked the house. Then I recognized a few numbers from the night before, but the were stretched out here and given more room to breath and develop. And eventually, Sugar Blue joined them again, for some spirited jamming, even taking over on lead vocal duties on one tune. There was also, a late-set “Solid Gold” style dance contest that had Trube encouraging all the young ladies to get up on the dance floor and shake their booties which brought smiles and hoots from the males in the audience. The set closed out with a hard driving extremely funky “Cissy Strut” that brought everyone to their feet. The encore consisted of an original composition entitled “Milk,” which proved to be an equally powerful dance song and a great end to a two-night stand and a debut of sorts.
As a trio, the Greyhounds may still be discovering their equilibrium, but they still pack a wallop, as their set was testament and went well over the allotted curfew time. One of the perks of seeing a show at the Boulevard Café is that they encourage and nurture the musicians who play there, and even indulge them at times. The Boulevard also, loves giving it’s patrons their moneys worth, and in true fashion locked their doors, quit selling drinks, as per state law, and allowed the band to play a kind of private party until 3:40 AM, the exhausted smiles upon the departing faces a living testimony of a great concert.
JamBase | Chicago
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