Live Review: The Rocketboys with Bearcat and Quiet Company at Jammin’ Java, Vienna, VA – 13th September 2012

By on Tuesday, 25th September 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

It was definitely a lovefest at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA the other night. I went to see Austin, Texas’s The Rocketboys play. When I got there, I discovered that an additional band had been added, Quiet Company, who were their best friends, as we were repeatedly told. They aren’t touring together, they just happened to be in the same town on the same day and decided to do a one-off together. So amid the hugs and shared stage time, I managed to see not one but two stellar performances that rocked my socks off that night.

To start off the night, and initiate the love, local Andy Zipf took the stage with his brand of countrified rock often found here in the south. The Rocketboys keys player Justin Wiseman joined him for about half the set. Having seen Zipf play solo, I was impressed with how much better he came off with a full band behind him.

Second on that night was the aforementioned Quiet Company. Hailing from the same Texas town as the headliners, Quiet Company were far and away more than I expected and surely not properly represented by their name. The beardy, dark shirt, tie and waist-coated band looked like their name might imply, but what you got was a loud, throbbing, rich, slightly screamy dose of true indie rock and roll in your face. It was an absolute delight. And of course, half of the Rocketboys found their way on stage for the final song. I was right pleased to have been introduced in this manner to another great Austin band. But don’t ask them about SXSW – actual Austin residents think it is a nightmare and none of them have ever attended as punters. I have plans to cover their full set come November, so more then.

Sharing the bill and Invisible Children tour promotion with The Rocketboys, Bearcat is a female-fronted torchy, jazzy outfit that reminds me of the great songstresses of the ‘60s. Again, I spied the keyboard player as well as their drummer, Josh Rodgers, from the headliner gracing the stage. Singer Renee Yohe is the real life inspiration for the non-profit To Write Love on Her Arms, an organization dedicated to helping those who struggle with addiction, depression, self-injury, and attempted suicide. With just a touch of Adele and Amy Winehouse, Yohe captures your attention and you just want to watch her as she draws you to her with her presence and music.

When the night brought me The Rocketboys I was already fully satisfied with my evening, but knew more great music was to come. The ‘boys haven’t let me down before and I am happy to say I doubt they ever will. Having gone through a personnel change that saw 40% of the founding members step down, I was concerned about the resulting effect. I shouldn’t have been. If I dare say, I think their line-up is stronger now with the addition of youngster Kyle Samuel on guitar (complete with big black Xs on his hands to ward off any errant bartender who might accidentally hand him a beer) and Rodgers on drums. Singer Brandon Kinder, bassist Josh Campbell and Wiseman on keys complete the quintet as they ripped into ‘Marching to the Palace’ from their latest release ‘Build Anyway’ followed quickly by ‘All the Western Winds’, one of my favorites from their 2009 release ’20,000 Ghosts’.

Kinder sings with an intensity that shines through on every tune, wavering effectively at the emotionally wrenching spots. With the theme of loss in many guises to the rebuilding of self and soul woven throughout the new album, we were taken on a ride through the set from quiet self-reflection to gut busting joy, the music capable of soundtracking just about anyone’s life. Closing out the set with ‘The Best’ (official music video below), a song about the debt you owe to your best friends, the guys from Quiet Company joined them on stage. Certainly not surprising to see based on the blubbering earlier, it did make for a joyful, triumphant ending.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SK9CU74Y1bo[/youtube]

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