As I write this, I am taking a little vacation in my hometown of Buffalo, New York. However, before that trip was to take place, I had the excellent opportunity to check out this new band that seemed to be exciting a lot of people. This astounding group made up of musicians; Kym Hawkins, Geoff Bennington, Paul Demyanovich, Alex Fedorow and Brian Yurachek are called Gillian. Boy, do these folks no how to put on a great show! Their mix of danceable indie-blues-rock made a cold Friday night at Arlene’s Grocery that much warmer and enjoyable for all.
Since it was an early show that night, it was almost like the event was meant to be. I had to be ready to bounce the following morning at five. Also, with the drama of the new season of House of Cards behind me, the adrenalin was pumping. Every time I watch that show, I feel so much better as a human being. However, I digress here. Luckily, the travel downtown was a piece of cake last Friday and the chilly evening was pleasantly welcomed. I arrived right on time to Arlene’s just as the hostess was letting people into the performance space. Entering the dark room downstairs, I was greeted with an empty floor with a handful of people lingering by the bar. Admiring the red glare, I made sure to snag an Angry Orchard and began to assess the venue for the upcoming show. Although, it did not take long for that empty area to fill up because it immediately began to quickly include a substantial collection of people happy for Friday and upcoming weekend festivities.
Arlene’s Grocery’s small stage seemed to be well centered and situated for the arrangement of instruments scattered about. Come to think of it, the last time I was in the space was three years ago to see the band Twin Wave. Man, time really does fly. As I was reminiscing, the five members along with the splendid horn section of Gerald Abt and Ilana Adis made their way to their positions. Lead lady in black, Kym, honored a wonderful sultry look with emphasis on her legs. She stole everyone’s attention right away. With a wave to the crowd they were ready to begin. Their music kicked off with a loud initial drumbeat that followed with a solid twang of the guitars. Timed perfectly, Kym’s voice rang clear just as the disco ball began to circulate its light on us all. Throughout the show, Kym had a passionate stare that lingered out into the crowd. Her focus and dedication to the task at hand was both admirable and impressive. I loved Kym’s continuous marching in place as she sang her heart out. She held that microphone delicately and would never let it go as she lived in her music. The shaking of her hips helped as well to keep us all entertained.
Most interesting about Gillian, other than their excellent instrumental sounds were the unique harmonies between Kym and guitarist Geoff. The contrast between Kym’s softly powerful vocals mixed in with Geoff immense growls made their music quite special. This sparked their hard rock and blues screaming pleasure that worked on so many musical levels in its ultimate satisfaction. First, it got everyone’s attention off that bat. Second, it made their music stand out as something different yet familiar for us avid blues fans. The metal heads probably loved Geoff’s singing because not only did his growls reverberate across the floor, but also his deep red face added a certain wildness to it all. Paul and Alex made sure to keep the rhythm fluid and strong. Both also seemed to love just being up there and made every moment count as Brian kept the beat alive. His power was intense and his speed intense!
Each member of Gillian all bounced along the stage happily during the show. In fact, it probably helped that lots of fans and friends were now crowded in the space. Supported by hollers and obscene shouts, Gillian had all of the motivation they needed to keep on doing their thing. Every song had some new beat and riff that offered a variety of interest. Some songs felt like a perfect highway tune or an end credits soundtrack for an animated flick. They could switch around nicely and explored endless limits to their genre.
As the night drew to a close, Kym managed to wear the microphone wires around her neck and won everyone over with her beauty and voice. Probably the happiest people that evening were Gerald and Ilana. Both of them were always having lively conversations and laughing constantly while on stage. Gerald was even instrumental in encouraging fans to move closer to the stage for a more intimate experience. Kym kept it professional even when the microphone fell off the stand. Like a cat, she caught it graciously and continued onwards. Finally, with the tambourine thrown on the ground, Gillian ended with a roar from the crowd and they definitely won the night!