Penciled in around the bevy of Holiday events and commitments, I managed to sneak in one night of Johnnyswim
's sold out Christmas show. If you're unfamiliar with the band, let us introduce you; we met them earlier this year when they stopped by headquarters for a Dead Kitten Session
. The duo is a family band of the happily married persuasion. Though the couple have not been without their hard lessons. Within a short period of time Amanda lost her father, and Abner his mother; the losses echo in the beautifully hopeful songs on their 2014 release Diamonds
Though tragedy is no stranger to the Sudano-Ramirez family, the pair exude a very special joy in each other's company. There's just no such thing as a melancholy Johnnyswim show. Emotionally charged? Count on it, but outright depressing? Not ever, and their two hour Christmas special was no exception. Sudano and Ramirez are expecting their first child in February. Glowing is simply an understatement, the two exuded their elation. Early on, in between a beautifully measured Christmas cover and a Johnnyswim original, Abner looked at his pregnant wife, and the house full of familiar faces, and absently blurted out the evening's sentiment, "this is what it feels like when your dreams come true.
I hear it, I do. The whole thing sounds nauseatingly sweet, like throwing up wedding cake in Candy Land. To be honest, that was my initial impression of the whole Johnnyswim shebang. I was introduced to the band through a press release and a digital copy of Diamonds
, and while I enjoyed the record, it just didn't land anywhere for me. Then they came to the studio, and I saw them live. They are a must see live. What is lost on the record is their vocal and technical support of each other. Sudano's vocal support in "Home" and "Diamonds" is turned way down on the final cut of the album, but it's one of the band's strongest qualities. Every song is a duet, and it'll pass you by a bit until you see them live.
The room was teeming to the brim with friends, family, and fans; many of whom overlapped. Amanda Sudano is Donna Summer's daughter, and the house was clearly full of family friends; whispers could be heard through the crowd about who knew who through who, but most claims were less name-droppy and more statements of pride for the young couple's success. Another pregnant couple in the crowd chatted details with Sudano and Ramirez. Song requests were belted out from all corners of the room. And playful, but genuine anecdotes about the couple and the band—Abner jokingly confessed the band's original conception was built around the goal of having as much make-out time as possible—were shared with the jovial spirit of celebration. Between the quaint Christmas decorations, and the band's frequent conversation with the crowd, the show felt like the couple's private Christmas party to which we'd all been extended a personal invitation.
and A Johnnyswim Christmas
are available on iTunes now.
The show at Bowery Ballroom wrapped the band's final performance in 2014, number 300 for the busy band. While no official hiatus has been announced, chances are a new born baby will probably keep the family band relatively stationary, at least for a little while. So, if you didn't catch them on tour, catch them in session at Baeble HQ, below: