I had the pleasure of going out to Raleigh to see my favorite klezmerpunkamericana band, Denver’s Boulder Acoustic Society, last night. With a huge sound, a practically punk rhythm section, and an accordian, BAS really, really don’t sound like anyone but themselves. Their set in Raleigh swung from gorgeous bluegrass waltzes to raving klezmerpunk fusions to piano rockers, all of it undercut by their spectacular rhythm section, drummer Scott Aller and upright bassist Neil McCormick, who may just be the best rhythm section working in Americana today. Aller in particular is a monster behind the kit, fierce and driving and subtle, and it’s always been a pleasure to watch him work.
BAS is in the process of working on a new album, and the crowd at Deep South last night were treated to a chatty band who are working through new material live on the road, and all of the new stuff they played sounded excellent; some deviations from the sounds of Punchline, their 2009 album that I’m terrifically fond of, keeping the complexity of the musicality on that album while pushing the actual sound of it, and the songwriting, in new directions. BAS is a band where no two songs sound alike, but they all sound like BAS, and that’s a rare quality. The new stuff they’re doing — in particularly a staggering song late in the set that I think is called “Giant”, just absolutely heartbreakingly gorgeous — doesn’t sound like the old stuff, but it fits.
I was also impressed by how well they worked the crowd; Deep South is a drinker’s bar for a particular set of Raleigh residents, but by the second or third song in their excellent hour and a half (opening! I felt so lucky!) set, they had the majority of the crowd in the palm of their hand, quiet during quiet songs and reactive during noisy ones, and that was only doubly helped by their unplugging mid-set and coming down to the floor with us. I love bands that do that, because even in the small venues where I shoot, it makes the set feel even more intimate. (I love it even better with my f1.4 lens.)
And they sang Two Man Gentleman Band’s “Drip Dryin'” before the start of their set, and I love anyone who loves two man music.
I’ve heard people bitch about the rotating color light on the DS stage, but I loved it. Aside from the overbearing reds in some venues that make everyone look sunburnt, I love color in stage photos, and I got a ton of it late night. Clean edges and interesting walls and sharp light; it was a pleasure to shoot there, and BAS were a pleasure to see.
They’re on the road for the rest of the summer and I highly recommend seeing them. Full set from last night is here.
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