Just Another Wednesday Night With Kendall Street Company
I haven’t seen Kendall Street company since LOCKN’ Music Festival, a couple of years ago. They opened up right before Umphrey’s McGee and I thought they did a great job keeping the audience's attention before such a big act. And that was a few years ago. They have since grown into a fullfledged touring band deserving of an entire review here at www.jambandpurist.com
It was just another Wednesday night in Harrisonburg, Virginia; my hometown. Not a lot of music seems to come through here. When it does, I feel lucky to be able to see a show five minutes away from my house. Oh, the luxury of actually having a somewhat decent venue that is getting some music near you. I wasn’t expecting the crowd that attended for a Wednesday night show and I was glad to see the turnout. There were a lot of college kids and some older folks. Kendall Street Company seem to have a diverse fanbase. I had previously been in contact with some of the band members trying to get them on my website and YouTube VLOG. Finally, things worked out and here it is.
Kendall Street Company have some major hype and a big management company to boot. There is a reason why they are billed as, "Virginia's Breakout Jamband.” And why have been getting some major attention on this upcoming tour. Kendall Street Co has what it takes to take their sound to the next level. Skipping right past most bands of their caliber. I have been seeing live Jam band music for 17 years now… wow just saying that makes me feel really old. Anyway, I’ve been seeing this kind of music for almost two decades and I have reviewed hundreds of bands. Kendall Street Co are already up there with some of the bigger acts in the scene. With a little honing of technique and constant practice/performance all they need now is for you to hear them.
It was a fairly straightforward setlist, covers were thrown in with the originals but what made this performance stand out was the creativity in which the covers were performed. While they had a simple, easy take on "Bertha" they switched things up with "Lowrider" making it more of a "Slowrider": funky and slower in tempo. I enjoyed this change of pace and sometimes, covers need to be flipped on their head to become something more than what they were before. I was excited to hear "Oye Como Va" done with a nice groove and solid articulation but I was not expecting them to go into "Groove Is In The Heart" by Deee-lite and then back into "Oye Como Va". This was surprising and fun. This is exactly what being a Jam band is all about; taking the music away from bar covers with actual musical segues and changes. Kendall Street Co's originals are also fun, danceable, and party anthems. Their musical abilities combine well together to create something more.
(Lead Singer) Louis Smith's energy is infectious; his constant smile represents the feeling of this band. Brian Roy (bassist) brings the style to Kendall Street & Co, kicking off those fancy slippers and dropping the bass bombs. (Drummer) Ryan Wood is perhaps the most skilled musician of them all and truly plays to the heart of this band. Ben Laderberg on guitar is a melodic wildcard, never knowing exactly when he is about to take off on a tangential solo. Jake Vanaman (Sax) is the solo captain, always bringing the notes. I think there was another keyboardist but I can't find anything online! I hate to leave him out because it certainly added another element and let Jake's sax go to work. I talked with many of the concert-goers and all of them loved the band and wanted to see more. This says a lot about a small local show on a freakin' Wednesday! I haven’t decided if I am catching the next Sunday show but I would definitely like to see Kendall Street company again. I would certainly listen if they were playing at a festival this summer. Here’s to another wild and crazy Wednesday night!
P.S.- I did end up going to the next Wednesday show and it was even better than the one I reviewed here. They were tighter and even more improvisationally sound. I am glad I returned for another round of KSC and I did not have to review it. It felt nice to just enjoy the show and dance. Thanks, Kendall Street for the great times.
It was a cold, frigid evening as I traveled up the highway to Winchester, Virginia. This small quaint town is filled with history; mostly from the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Many monuments, museums, and plaques are displayed throughout the downtown area where the Bright Box is located. History was certainly made that night, not some war history, but musical history. The one-of-a-kind Prog-Jam-Rock band, Dopapod, may have laid a set down for the ages in the intimately situated venue. I have been to the Bright Box before but this time, there was no stage: The band was on the floor, eye to eye with the audience and almost completely surrounded by people. At one point, Neal "Fro" Evans, the drummer, even had someone from the audience help him on drums. That is how intimate this was. I situated myself as close as I could and really got to watch this band work as a unit. Dopapod is prodigious, raw, and tight. They work together as one, as a family. Bringing something entirely new and creative to every performance. You honestly never know what you will get with these guys. Case in point, they covered an amazingly funky version of Rammstein's "Du Hast." This was absolutely hilarious and unexpected. I did not think I would be dancing to "Du Hast" when I arrived at this show. This is another instance of Dopapod taking chances and having fun.
Oh yeah, before I forget! The opener Eggy was also impressive and fun. I wasn't able to catch the entire show but what I did see was high-energy and thought-out material. This band also works well together and seems to be pushing each other to play better and better. Opening up for Dopapod is also a great experience learning firsthand how to create jam transitions and keep the audience in the palm of your hand. I would check out Eggy again for a full review.
Back to Dopapod; Rob Compa is a wizard on the guitar. His playing is diverse and melodic: sometimes preferring the groove over the solo, which takes a lot of willpower with that nasty rhythm section. Bassist, Chuck Jones always with a smile on his face. Eli Winderman has seemed to allow the other guys to grow and pursue their own sounds. At times, I think of Eli as the bandleader but now it seems everyone is on equal musical terms, and it's amazing to watch this band grow together and separately. This pandemic has changed a lot for everyone especially musicians but I could tell Dopapod was having so much fun on stage, laughing, dancing, and talking shit into the mics to one another. The audience was fully committed and hooked to the music. There wasn’t one person there that was standing still. This truly felt like a house party show. Like you just say went over to your buddy, Benjamin Bumblebees, house to see some new band formed in the basement. But it’s actually a top-tier Jam band playing for themselves and loving it. Dopapod isn’t afraid to try new things, mess up, or completely flub because that’s what creating improvisational music is all about; taking chances. And Dopapod takes more chances than them all, combining every genre into a magical soup, boiling it down into a potion, and serving it spoonful by spoonful, tasty jam after tasty jam; until you are filled to the brim and it all explodes inside you! Ok, did I get carried away?
I had to add the setlist here just for posterity purposes. This show truly was one for the history books.
I: Trickery, Garbage Man, Trapper Keeper^, Onion Head > Du Haast* > Onion Head > Hi Doggie, Picture in Picture+
II: Cloud World, Vol. 3 #86 -> Fannie -> Vol. 3 #86, Best Friends, 8 Years Ended -> Velcro, Piazole
+W/ Jake Brownstein from Eggy on guitar
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.