Recap: Red Lions, Summer People, Aficionado @ HRCH

For many friends, strangers and familiar faces alike, it was their first time walking down the steps leading into the welcoming brick walls of the Hudson River Coffee House.  The draw for some on March 3rd could have been to attempt to prove Andrew wrong but I’d say majority was to give local fave Aficionado a proper send off on their 2-month spring tour.  The Red Lions, also from Albany, started off the evening with Summer People sandwiched in between.

The Hudson River Coffee House, located at 227 Quail, has begun putting on shows, with owner and operator Anton Pasquill as curator, managing the sound and catering to the musicians, providing water and adjusting house gear.

As this was my first time in attendance for a show here, my first impression was that the building adapted to host a show as best as it could.  It was tightly packed and more standing room would have been preferable.  As a venue, it’s a substantial upgrade from an apartment basement (the last place I saw both Aficionado and Summer People) but it interestingly enough doesn’t necessarily lose that vibe either, with vintage adornments and displayed art adding to the atmosphere of the underground coffee house.

The Red Lions, in the most recent form, are comprised of Eric Margan, Caroline Corrigan, Rick Spataro, Scott Kellerhouse (occasionally) and this show debuted latest addition Jonnie Baker, live as lead guitarist.  The Red Lions is the brainchild of Eric Margan, starting in 2006, and the band has consistently performed, swapped members and evolved accordingly over the years.  Each member is extremely talented and the band works together well, even swapping instruments in alternate songs. The musicians recently achieved their goal on Kickstarter and will be using the donated funds to record a full-length album.  The Red Lions started the night off well, incorporating looping sounds into their performance.  They also used a ceramic coffee mug as a percussion instrument, giving an authentic backing to their pleasant indie folk sound.

Summer People and Aficionado are similar in that they both are larger bands, with an incredibly gifted female vocalist representin’, sweet design aesthetics for merch, a DIY mindset of running with it when it goes awry, and yet they sound completely different.

Alex, the lead singer of Summer People doubles as a drummer as well.  My theory is that in his youth, he would seclude himself spending hours banging on whatever he could find, drum kit or not, and gradually began to study the instrument and develop his natural skill.  He’s crazy.  And crazy good.  His presence aids to the performance definitely; sweating, veins bulging, losing his hat and his drumsticks with utter IDGAF passion.  The rest of the members of Summer People follow suit to that, and each member fits together, both in energy and in musicality.  They have this awesome, unpredictably sloppy approach that reminds us why we like seeing bands play live, but they are able to maintain a delicacy and precision in their performance.  I caught his drumstick midair, and my friend Ryan helped keep his microphone stand in check as he pounded on drum pieces.

Summer People is a 7-piece, (Alex, Jade, Brandon, Justin, Steve, Pete and Graham) and their Facebook bio reads “Summer people, some are…” (Awesome.)   The band will be joining Aficionado for the first half of their tour, and are also playing at SXSW.  They released their new, sophomore record “Teamwork,” which you can currently purchase or stream on Low Light records.  Their songs feature a diverse and eclectic range of tempos and halts, with building patterns of their instruments, repeating lyrical phrases and the creation of dramatic moments soloed out by Jade’s eerie and sultry voice.  Summer People has genuinely found a permanent home on my music radar.  See them live.

Aficionado has been busy up to some good lately and their hard work is paying off.  Recently signed to No Sleep Records, the band was included in Alternative Press’ compilation of 100 bands you need to know in 2011.  Aficionado will also record their next album during this tour and judging off of the songs from their latest EP, “When It Comes To Creation,” good things are in store.

It was fitting that the coffee house was packed with our friends for this send off.  I’m not going to review their set, because of my nerdy and obvious friendship bias, but I will leave you with a quote to ponder:

“This song’s about how people always complain about being in Albany and being miserable,” lead singer Nick Warchol said between songs.  “So then they leave to find out the reason they are miserable is because they seek misery…My grandfather used to give me corny t-shirts with slogans like “wherever you go, there you are” and I realized, well, that’s true.”

Hope you guys have an awesome time on tour and in the meantime, we’ll be here Keeping Albany Boring.

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