Adam Matlock of Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps looked out over the crowd at Cafe Nine Friday night and thanked the headliners, Kindred Queer — up next — for having Dr. Caterwaul’s perform at Kindred Queer‘s show celebrating the release of its album, Child. Matlock said Kindred Queer would be taking the stage very soon, noting that “they will be completely different from what we’re doing, and that’s New Haven music in a nutshell.”
Friday night at Cafe Nine exemplified both the variety and vibrancy of the music and musicians that the city has to offer, and showed what can happen when they all come together to mark a special occasion — the release of Child, which has been a long time in the making.
The first to take the stage was New Britain’s City Streets Country Roads, including Jason on vocals and guitar, Nic on bass, Bill on guitar, Tyler on sax, Carrie on keyboard, and Bridgges on drums. The band barely let a few seconds linger between each song, delivering a powerfully melodic, rock-heavy sound punctuated by vocals that drifted from lamentation to a more gravelly bluesy tone. The sound was often reminiscent of Jeff Tweedy and Wilco; when the band covered Wilco’s “Spiders” as their finale, with Tyler on vocals, it seemed more than appropriate. The audience gave them rousing applause and appreciation, as City Streets, Country Roads set the tone for the night.
Dr. Caterwaul’s Cadre of Clairvoyant Claptraps included Adam Matlock on accordion and keyboard, the NHI’s own (in full disclosure) Brian Slattery on fiddle, Chris Cretella on guitar, Mike Tepper on bass, and Michael Paolucci on drums. Performing a full set of cumbias — a style of dance music from Colombia — the band kept the mood fun and lively, and kept the audience moving closer to the stage as well as moving to the music. This band was having as good of a time as the crowd, including when Slattery took to vocals for two of the songs and used a piece of paper as a guide for one, inciting laughter from himself as well as the rest of the band. The musical result was one of camaraderie and cohesion that seemed to be the theme of the night.
Kindred Queer took the stage with Jon Watanabe on guitar and Jesse Newman on violin, in addition to the band’s regular lineup of Xavier Serrano on guitar and vocals, Olive on cello and vocals, Derrik Bosse on bass, Dylan McDonnell on flute, and Quinn Pirie on drums, celebrating and performing Child in its entirety. The crowd, near capacity, filled in right to the edge of the stage. The music that followed was airy and light, yet almost orchestral in its scope and sound. The band was finely tuned, attentive to detail yet conveying the music’s delicacy and strength. From the exquisite interaction of strings among Olive, Newman, and Serrano to Pirie’s, Bosse’s, and Watanabe’s smoothly punctuated beats — all accentuated by McDonnell’s lilting flute — each song came alive as one chapter of a larger more intricate story. When Matlock joined the band with his accordion, another color and shape was added to the kaleidoscope of sound.
Interspersed between songs were Serrano’s multiple expressions of love and gratitude, to not only his band members and the other acts of the night, but to the friends and audience members who had “stuck around,” as he put it, though it did not seem as though anyone wanted to be anywhere but there. After the songs from Child, the band added two more tunes, a new song and an old one. Serrano then announced that Kindred Queer would play one more and asked the crowd to sing along.
The song was Talking Heads’ “Heaven.”
“Everyone is trying to get to the bar / the name of the bar is called heaven,” Serrano sang. “The band in heaven, they play my favorite song / play it one more time, play it all night long.” Something tells me that this crowd, and these bands, would have been more than pleased to spend many more hours celebrating such music right in New Haven.