Gregory Alan Isakov, A Folkie Full Of Surprises
    • THURSDAY, APRIL 16, 2015

    • Posted by: David Pitz

    OK, so the photos might not be much to look at. What can I say? I expected to mosey into The Bowery Ballroom, post up easily, maneuver between the creases in the crowd, and snap away to the elegant music pouring from the speakers all night long. Except there were no creases. The Bowery was packed for an evening of endearing, heartfelt folk-rock from Colorado-based songwriter, Gregory Alan Isakov. Enjoy the accidental abstract evidence of the show throughout.

    Gregory's music is something I've slowly fallen for over the last two years. The Weatherman arrived in my inbox around this time in 2013. It was perfectly rustic and grass stained, had a dreamy ease to it, not to mention Gregory's wonderful voice, delivering songs about moonlighting astronauts, among other things (lots of other things, actually). One NPR journalist likened it to lying in the back of a pickup truck and staring up at the stars. I still can not top this type of imagery when it comes to Gregory's music. It's perfect.

    I've seen Gregory play a handful of times. Twice at the Newport Folk Festival last year and once in the comforts of the old Baeble basement. But his show at the Bowery was the first proper, headlining kind of set. And it was a dandy of a performance. Like my underestimation of the turnout, a lot of things would be a surprise over the course of his hour long plus set.

    There was an unexpected pulse of energy in the room. People seemed very excited to be present There were random bull horned proclamation of Gregory being a gift from god, comes to mind. Isakov's biggest mistake of the night might have been joking about taking requests. They would rain down on him the rest of the evening.

    In short, his fans adore him...his fans adore his music. In the relatively short time that I've known of him, I've associated songs like "Saint Valentine", "Big Black Car", and "The Stable Song" with the lightest of life's moments. That truck metaphor, obviously. Summer. Sun. Being at complete ease. I made a vacation video of my dog in Maine set to "Time Will Tell". Yes, I occasionally make vacation videos of my dog.

    But something seemed heavier at The Bowery. The lighting was turned down low, The band members stepped in and out of pools of blue light, haze falling on them like a dense fog. He had a drummer...that was new. Those drums brought something muscular to the mix, maybe best exemplified by the build and eventual eruption of cinematic drama in "This Empty Northern Hemisphere". Everything had a little more electricity running through it, as Gregory and his band played with swells of reverb and ambiance, crashes of cymbal and spooky microphone modulations. It was haunting and far removed from the singular folk sound I had pegged this quintet with. To the point where when they did dig in to do their "nerdy folk thing" (gathering around a single microphone), it could have been another band (an equally amazing band, of course).

    In short, while there were a lot of surprises when Gregory Alan Isakov played The Bowery last week , there was always one inevitable outcome: I would fall for his music even more.

    Gregory Alan Isakov On Tour:
    April 14 Cambridge, MA The Sinclair
    April 15 Providence, RI Columbus Theatre
    April 16 Portland, ME Port City Music Hall
    April 17 Burlington, VT First Unitarian Church
    April 18 Ithaca, NY The Haunt
    April 19 Brooklyn, NY Music Hall of Williamsburg
    April 21 Covington, KY Madison Theater
    April 22 St. Louis, MO The Ready Room
    April 23 Lincoln, NE Knickerbockers

    Watch the band do their "nerdy folk thing" in the Baeble basement.

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