During a set at Best Video by the group No Line North on Thursday night, the 1963 comedy adventure film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World played behind the band without sound except for the band’s music.
“It seemed appropriate,” Jon Schlesinger, lead singer and guitarist for the New Haven-based band, said in a soft, slightly joking tone. It suited the mood perfectly as a week filled with stories of spy ships and secret international dealings came to a close.
The performance space in the video store had an enthusiastic audience for the double bill of No Line North — which has a new album coming out next month — and area songwriter Bop Tweedie.
The second round of snow in less than 48 hours came down softly onto the as-yet-unplowed streets of New Haven Friday night, as Three Sheets became the center of anything but softness. A triple bill of New Haven-based bands that use the words noise rock in their descriptions of their music was on the menu. The patrons were bundled up, the floors were wet with what people’s boots were bringing in from the outside, and the air was vibrating with the static of three local favorites whose fans would not be kept away by weather.
Some of the “traditional” liturgical melodies Jews sing during synagogue services originated centuries ago. Others originated in our lifetimes — often thanks to one singer-songwriter named Debbie Friedman.
The sixth song on My Destiny Awaits, the latest release from Underwear — the project of New Haven-based musician Nick Grunerud — starts with a driving rhythm that also sounds, well, intimate. As the rhythm becomes more distinct, it becomes clear why. The percussion is really Grunerud beatboxing and singing a line that suggests a chord progression. Then there’s another layer, Grunerud in lead singer mode. His voice is clear with just a little grit.
“Don’t try and tell me what I’m doing here inside my body,” he sings. “Don’t try and tell me all the coast is clear again.” He’s emotional, committed, soulful, his performance imbuing the abstract lyrics with meaning.
And if the name of the song, “Inside My Body,” or the name of the music project overall makes you laugh a little, that’s fine by Grunerud.
The sky was clouding over and a big winter storm was settling in, but inside Pacific Standard Tavern and BAR, it was relaxed and groovy. As someone yelled from the crowd at BAR: “Snow pants or no pants!”
Halfway through the sax solo in “Black Rock,” the first song of WiRED’s set at Cafe Nine on Thursday night, a smile broke out across trumpeter and bandleader Nick Di Maria’s face. He’d just finished a blistering, textured solo himself, one that sounded like he was fully warmed up, even though he’d just hit the stage. Now he threw his head back, beaming, as Matt Knaegel on alto sax kept exploring. He was still grinning as drummers Eric Hallenbeck and Elliot Wallace took their turn, breaking down the rhythm and reorganizing it in time for bassist Andrew Zwart to take a ride on it. Slowly but surely, yet still improvising, the rhythm section found its way back to “Black Rock’s” original groove, a fast, frenetic funk.
The New Haven-based WiRed had released “Black Rock” on its album 2015 Time Circuit, and there the band wore its proud debt to 1970s fusion like Herbie Hancock on its sleeve. This “Black Rock” was more lived in, both harder and more flexible. It sounded a lot more like right now. It showed that when Di Maria told the audience he was “bringing jazz to young folks” — Thursday’s show was sponsored by Jazz Haven — he meant it.
While introducing Ian Fitzgerald Monday evening, Frank Critelli — fixture of New Haven’s singer-songwriter scene and that night’s master of ceremonies — interjected into his description of seeing Ian at the Newport Folk Festival last year that “everything is good.”
Some of the mumblings in the crowd about what was going on in the rest of the world suggested that not everyone was so sure of that. But it was easy to believe Critelli that everything was, and was going to be, good right where we were.