Review & Photos | Greensky Bluegrass | New York City

Images by: Scott Harris
Words by: Tyler Curtis

Greensky Bluegrass & City Of The Sun :: 9.13.14 :: Gramercy Theatre :: New York, NY

Read Tyler’s review after the gallery.

It seems as though every time Greensky Bluegrass returns to New York City they’re greeted by a bigger crowd at a larger venue than their last time through. This past Saturday, Greensky continued the climb with a stop at the Gramercy Theatre. The spacious yet intimate location gave the Kalamazoo five-piece just the right conditions to pair new material from their brand0new album, If Sorrows Swim with material from a songbook that’s filled with well-crafted originals and energetic covers.

Taking the stage before Greensky was acoustic post-rock trio City of the Sun. Despite differing in style from the headliners, the demanding instrumentation held the attention of audience members who soaked in their exposure to a young talent. It seemed as though the aggressive guitar work skated right atop post-rock chord progressions that were held down by a cajon and tambourine. The New York City band’s modern flamenco influence begged comparisons to Rodrigo Y Gabriela, showing the crowd that headbanging acoustic music exists.

When the time came for the Michigan bluegrass ensemble to perform, the crowd was riled up. The first set began with the second song off of If Sorrows Swim, “Burn Them.” Six songs off of the band’s September 2014 release made their way onto the set list, though fans had been exposed to most of them in a live setting already. Songs like “Kerosene,” “Worried About The Weather” and “Leap Year” had found their way onto the album after becoming live staples on the stage in the years prior.

Mandolinist Paul Hoffman’s voice sounded as strong as ever throughout the night as he led his band mates through a collection of Greensky songs new and old. Between belting out songs like “The Reverend” and “Jaywalking,” and showing what he can do on a mandolin during “3-3-4-4-3,” he was the MVP of the night. Dave Bruzza shared some of the vocal duties, taking the Big Apple along for a ride on tunes such as “I’d Probably Kill You,” “Send Me Your Address From Heaven” and a rocking take on The Band’s “The Shape I’m In.”

Instrumentally, the show was highlighted by Anders Beck’s distorted dobro licks, Mike Devol’s solid bass playing and the banjo playing of Michael Arlen Bont. Specifically, the three of them were very key players in the “Leap Year” jam that ended the second set. It’s not uncommon to feel like you’re not at a bluegrass show when seeing Greensky Bluegrass. Rock and roll in a bluegrass disguise might not even feel like bluegrass at times, especially when effects are added to the mix.

After a short encore break passed to allow the band to recuperate, the quintet reemerged for with their version of Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” which served as a great cap to an electric night of acoustic music. Looking into the future, it will be intriguing to see where the next step on the ladder is for Greensky.

JamBase | Big Apple Greensky
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