THE RUFFLED FEATHERS
Show @ Skinny Fat Jack's, March 14th 2015
By Graham White
A bizarre collection of styles, from black and white striped wallpaper to Victorian chandeliers, creates an atmosphere that is as cozy as it is eclectic. A Robert Katz painting hangs next to a hubcap above 1950’s teal leather seats that clash deliciously with the bright red brick walls. Playing songs from previously released albums alongside new and evolving tracks, the 6-piece band performed in what little space that was available to them, playing an intimate and human show to offset the threat of causing noise complaints. A dedicated fan base crowds the room, with the band greeting them as if they were old friends gathering to play bridge.
Opening with the folkiest of tones, with violin perfectly in sync with the vocal and trumpet melodies, it takes no time at all to fall in love with the harmonies that are woven like wool sweaters. The bass walks along with the snare rolls with bright piano filling all the gaps, holding us down while the melodies wash over us. The dual vocals are subdued in a spectacular fashion, in tandem with melodies that place a surefire smile in your ears.
Jazzy piano licks compliment the violin’s fiddling, while trumpet beacons to a old smoky jazz club billing Miles. The brass sings like Ella, and as the tracks shift genre to genre, we are presented with a brilliant mixture of sound. The rhythm section is well connected, synchronized and consistent while maintaining variation, which fills out the uniquely arranged melodies that trade silence and sound. The violinist is clearly classically trained (or perhaps just a virtuoso!) and in combination with trumpet and ukulele, breaks into exquisite sound.
The group has mastered the art of using emptiness to make sound all the more impressive. Pause. Unpause and be cacophonous, inspirational and lyrical. With this as a formulae there is no limit to their potential, and with their music never staying in one genre too long, the entire performance sweeps aside conventions, preferring to create unique music along with a unique experience.
A happy side effect for us!
The performance is more than just a musical showing, it is theatrical in its lyricism, cinematic in it’s explosive and affective rhythms, and artistically superb in its melodic quality. Performing another new track entitled Sea of Hesitation the band displayed their ability to play with a dark tone, which lets the trumpet shine more than normal. This group can write, knowing the perfect balance of complexity and ease while staying so fresh. As the violin builds melodies with the trumpet, working off each other’s accents, it is so divine in it’s melody.
From Frank Sinatra inspired ballads to fast folk, this group packs a punch. It has so much energy while staying so smooth. As members of the band took some much needed air, Gina played tracks from her upcoming EP. Showcasing her vocal talents and songwriting abilities, it provided an interesting break from the near gluttonous mixture the band creates.
Playing their last song, Little Sister, it seemed a perfect way to end the two hour set. A ballad with enough energy to keep the audience in full blown trance with the beauteous sounds that are reaching our ears. As shouts for an encore begin, the band decides that as they haven’t received a noise complaint so far, they had might as well go for it now. An amazing end to the night, with the audience literally dancing in their seats.