07 January 2011

NYE in NYC I: Walri @ Pete's Candy Store

It was New Year's Eve, and yes, I was down in NYC, with more choices for live music than arguably anywhere else in the world, and yet I ended up at a tiny off-the-beaten path bar in Brooklyn seeing Walri, a band from my hometown of Rochester. The space for live music was literally in an old train car. Long narrow small and cramped, and the sound was coming from behind you, speakers facing the band. Bizarre experience indeed. The bizarre feeling amped up as opener Backwords ended their set in the waning hours of 2010 with a cover of White Rabbit. Like a reverse Cinderella, Walri quickly worked to get set up before the clock struck 12. Not quite ready, they whipped out a quick cover of Heart of Gold just in time and then the more traditional Auld Lang Syne (the song not the band.) And then they sound-checked. Finally they settled in and whipped out a good hour of their signature love rock that hooked fans new and old alike. Pretty standard Walri fare except for 2 major changes. Geoff Saunders was replaced on Bass by Benny Oyama and Dave Goebel was replaced on drums by Danny Rose, brother of lead man Amos. It's not immediately clear whether this is a permanent change to the band or just for their current tour. Time will tell I suppose. Anyway, they sounded great. They played a couple of tunes from the new members, and featured a good amount of instrument swapping (all but the drums were switched around). After their proper set and another small break, most of Auld Lang Syne (the band, not the song, who opened the night, which unfortunately we missed) and a few others took over the stage to begin the super jam segment of the evening with a rousing rendition of Born on the Bayou:

The crowd had thinned, but the spirits were riding high and people were ready to party. The line between the stage and the crowd blurred to almost become indistinguishable. Musicians from all of the evenings acts (including previously unmentioned Doctors Fox and Matt Cross) popped on and off stage at will and beautiful and raw music was made. Covers included Hey Pockey Way, an amazing I Want You (She's So Heavy), and this Ophelia:

With their propensity for Beatles covers, how long until Walri covers I Am the Walrus? (We Are the Walri?)

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