River Street Pub housed a wall-to-wall crowd Friday night. It ebbed and flowed, pouring out onto the sidewalk between sets as listeners took cigarette breaks and caught some of the brisk night air. Many had been breaking a sweat in front of the psychedelically lit stage, wispy with artificial bursts of smoke. They were here for a soul-packed line-up of bands, called to action by Guthrie-Bell Productions.
Headlining for the evening was one impeccably smooth performance.
Adrian Lewis–the singer-songwriter behind The Age– and his band, The Gents, have this unique ability to keep their listeners locked in, no matter where the tempo goes. They were led by acts from Victory Soul Orchestra and Front Business, a lineup that moves and shakes.
Yet the band seamlessly flipped back and forth from sultry ballads to upbeat, cranking soul with bouncing bass-driven hits like “On + On” and the room’s enthusiasm was intoxicating. The Age’s grooving solos led by popping drums and floating keys prompted communal nods and raised palms one minute, clasping hands and intimate cheek-to-cheek dances the next.
“This is a song called, ‘A Lover Left Me,’” Lewis announced mid-set.
“Hell yeah!” replied a voice from the crowd. Lewis grinned. There was a lot going on in that exclamation: some bitter emotion, some overwhelming enthusiasm, and this song was going to land right there. No one had touched an instrument yet, but a connection had been made.
It will be interesting to see how the artist uses his performance skills and connectivity in his upcoming album, expected this year.
Opening the stage for The Age and The Gents was the show-stopping funk-rock outfit Front Business. Tonight, for the first time, the five-piece was joined by a pair of lively female vocalists that set them alight in a whole different way. Illustrious harmonies were born, lending their original songs a new life.
It’s hard not to feel the residual energy pouring from a Front Business set. Regardless of the time or place, the band is able to consistently deliver joyous sounds that sets their audience loose, moving their bodies like inflatable tube figures and day trippers as they dance across the front of the stage. At their show, there’s no need for your inhibitions, you can just leave them at the door.
The number of dancers continued to build as the show went on, reaching their peak when the band opted for a familiar cover–”Just Dropped In” as made famous by Kenny Rogers.
Victory Soul Orchestra was all bright and popping horns. They’re a powerful instrumental outfit in sound and presence, snapping the crowd to attention and urging them to move. In songs like “Sunusu! Denpa Shonen” their sound cracked like an egg, spreading out as it crackled and popped in grooving, energetic bursts.
The night was packed with artists who showed a love for their genre and an attention to its craft. They’re soulful and smooth, grinning at each other and bouncing along as each beat landed with grace and intention.
The Age and The Gents, Front Business and Victory Soul Orchestra. RIver Street Pub, Troy, Jan. 26.