You always hear about those insaaaaane (with five a’s, followed by the word “dude”) concerts that happen late at night in some secret corner of the city, but only once in a blue moon do you find yourself there. It’s an elusive recipe. Last night’s ingredients were the ultra-cozy Baby’s All Right, the one and only Rubblebucket, and a whole lot of love for the Bushwick School for Music.
Their mission is to create tuition-free music education programs for children in Bushwick, Brownsville, and Bed-Stuy, where there is unfortunately a serious lack of funding. As Rubblebucket’s Kalmia Traver puts it, “Holy cow! Let’s go do that. Just go give the kids some music education!” With sold-out, donated performances from Zula, Celestial Shore, and everyone’s favorite bucket of rubble, they raised $2,500 for the kiddos yesterday.
Between the sparkle of Baby’s repurposed-ashtray lights and the frenetic reach of hands in the crowd, Zula and Celestial Shore were shaking up the space like a snow globe. The two teams of indie rockers painted the walls with a deep, vibrant sound. They also brought an extra layer of warmth to the intimate setting, from padding around in socks to guesting in each other’s sets. It was the kind of show where you could be screaming for the guitarist in one band and suddenly find him screaming at your side for the next one. During Celestial Shore’s set, we found Kalmia herself right at our feet, gripping the edge of the stage and thrashing to the beat.
By the time the 7-piece Rubblebucket shimmied onto the small stage, the crowd was an ocean of energy. “We’re just gonna do a little bit of chill, soft music right now, okay?” whispered Kalmia, not fooling anybody. They ripped into brassy dance anthems with a stockpile of goodies, including drums, percussion, bari sax, guitar, bass, trombone, trumpet, flutes, keys, and even a summer camp-style megaphone. It was an instant party, with the whole group swaying left to right in a choreographed shuffle and sprinting around to change instruments. Kalmia, who is one spunky badass, was everywhere. If you blinked, you might find her wrapped around an amp or climbing on your shoulder, slaying vocals, flute, and bari in turn.
They dished out “My Life,” “On The Ground,” “Silly Fathers,” “Shake Me Around,” “Sound Of Erasing,” “Origami,” and even a brand new song (dubbed “Tax Day” on their setlist). At this point, everyone was jumping up so high, it almost looked like the room itself was lurching downward. At a Rubblebucket show, not dancing is not an option.
“Does anyone have a birthday tonight?” Kalmia asked. “This song is sort of about birthdays,” she giggled before their runaway hit, “Came Out of a Lady.” Hand to God, the entire brass section went crowd surfing. While nailing their solos.
We came out to support the kids, and Rubblebucket reminded us that we’re all still a bunch of kids. On “Carousel Ride,” they showered us in rainbow confetti and giant balloons. Then they got a couple hundred people to crouch down on the floor and sing along to “Pain from Love.”
For their encore, which was certainly not up for debate, they killed it on a cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room,” followed by “Save Charlie.” But it didn’t stop there. They hopped down and started improvising like a runaway marching band, parading right out of Baby’s and disappearing like magic. Rubblebucket is the kind of band you just want to be a part of, and the kind of band that makes you a part of everything.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley