It's true what they say; there's something magical about springtime in New York. Friday night exemplified this... one of those first few nights of real spring, when the air feels warm... like a bath after a nightmarish ski trip where you got lost in the mountains and had to be helicoptered down. There was something electric in the air Friday night in Brooklyn at Baby's All Right's
album release show for Ava Luna's
new album, Infinite House
. The septet brought an incredible energy to the stage that had the room packed and the whole audience dancing. Infinite House
is an impressive creation; it's fusion of funk, lo-fi ambient, and neo-soul sound seems to blend seamlessly with vocal harmonies and narrative lyrics. It's intellectual, it's interesting, but most importantly, it's a pleasure to listen to.
The first opener of the night was Dirty Projector's bassist Nat Baldwin
. He mostly played songs from In The Hollows
, which came out about a year ago, in a release show on the same stage. Around 9:30, I mosied up to the front-left corner of the stage. I stood, mesmerized by the low, sweeping sounds of his double bass wafting from the speakers and filling the room with an intangible effect that can only be described as profoundly beautiful. Posed around his large instrument sweeping his bow back and forth, he also moved back and forth from the microphone, creating a rhythm that was entrancing. He sings with the kind of radical sincerity of Daniel Johnston, though it's far from a "bedroom confession;" with the control he has over his voice and from the way he plays his bass, it's obvious that he's a classically trained musician. Seeing him perform alone, you can hear how integral he is to the Dirty Projector's sound.
I saw him play last year when I ended up at a house party, totally unexpectedly, while visiting a friend for a weekend at Princeton University. He played in a living room, with no speakers, no microphone, just his voice and his bass. I was blown away. He performed with a vitality that, in all honesty, brought me close to tears. And I was not the only one; in that intimate of a setting, the emotional tension in the room was beyond palpable. Since then, I have been wanting to see him again in a larger space, to see if his performance could carry. And on Friday night, it did; it was a totally beautiful translation.
The next act was the Atlanta-based punk rock group Warehouse
. I wasn't familiar with them, but I immediately liked the kind of energy they were giving off. There was something abstract and obscure about what they were doing, but also something very much punk rock. They sound like the concept of a warehouse, spacious and yet industrious. Lead singer Elaine Edenfield moved with a self-aware but nonchalant ease around the stage. She and guitarist Ben Jackson had incredible chemistry. She would sync up the pace of her guttural voice, with his strong guitar riffs on his sweet, baby blue electric guitar. The drummer, Doug Bleichner, looked ravenous and totally in the zone.
Warehouse's first album Tesseract
is out on Brooklyn-based label Bayonet Records
-- which is also home to Frankie Cosmos and Beach Fossils. Their individual mastery over their instruments was evident, and the way the sound melded together, the electricity between them on stage was maniacal... in a good way.
The audience agreed; they were bobbing their heads and were all hyped up by the time Ava Luna took the stage. They opened up with their title track, "Infinite House"... female vocal harmonies layered over lo-fi ambient tracks, easing the audience into what felt like a different dimension. And down the rabbit hole we went. Lead singer, Becca Kaufman, stood poised and intentional, staring transfixed into the void... particularly on the track "Steve Polyester" which is more of a narrative, spoken word experiment. "Company" and "Black Dog," on which founder of the group Chris Hernandez takes the lead, brought out a spastic funk vibe that's totally interesting and had people really dancing. By the time keyboardist Felicia Douglass took the vocal lead in "Coat of Shellac," the energy of the crowd was steered by her voice -- which was both soulful and unpretentious -- and her delivery which radiated nothing but a feeling of absolute ease. It ended the show on an inspiring tone; there was this feeling like this is just the beginning. This is just the start for Ava Luna; they have so much more coming. And in the city, we still have the whole summer to look forward to.