Who knew that Joe’s Pub in NoHo was such a nice music venue? It felt like more of a throwback to wartime concert halls that hosted big band, swing, jazz, and singer-songwriter style of music as opposed to the standing room only venues around New York with sticky floors and band stickers covering the wall that I’m used to. You’d think it’s a well preserved venue that has seen decades of show biz’s best come through and bless the stage with their talents. Although my assumptions would be totally wrong considering the venue’s only been open for about fifteen years. But I digress, as I suppose it doesn’t matter that I was totally under-dressed on a Sunday night to see local act Jesus on the Mainline, which would qualify as a ‘big band’ in their own right. The fifteen-piece band, including five horns, two background vocalists, two rhythm percussionists, and one heavily bearded man leading the charge somehow packed themselves on the stage and strutted their stuff to a packed house.
Lead by singer Andrew Neesley, the band takes all its elements to create fantastic modern music with roots of bluesy, dirty, R&B from the 50s and 60s. Their songs are almost reminiscent of Clapton and the funkier side of the Rolling Stones. Yet every member of the group brings energy and youthfulness that their musical predecessors no longer carry without a lot of coffee. Through each influence they’ve taken in throughout their music-listening lives, the band has certainly been able to create their own musical fusion. I’d like to categorize them as something like ‘New-Age Power Gospel’.
Like any great frontman should, Andrew brings the most out of his musical comrades. He lives, and breathes with each musical element his band mates give him and almost challenges them throughout their solos and lead parts as he knows what they can bring to the table if they reach down deep enough. With each challenge, his band responded with brilliant instrumentation that brought each song to life.
So what does Jesus on the Mainline show us? What do they bring to an already over-crowded table that is the NYC music scene? They give passion and unlimited energy behind every note in every song that they play. The bands large number of members is their greatest strength, not because they are louder with more members, but because they all work strongly together as a unit. If there was a member missing they might not be as powerful, which really says something considering they have plenty of members to spare. My adjectives can only do so much though, as this is a band you must experience for yourself to understand how fun they really are to watch and listen to. I’m sure if Jesus were still around and kickin’ he’d head over to an East Village venue to check them out himself! So you should too.
Article by Tom Shackleford