Saturday night at Bowery Ballroom was the place to be to see none other than the Brooklyn-based San Fermin. Playing their last of 3 shows at this venue, tonight’s show saw a ton of special guests rotated in during the evening to contribute to San Fermin’s songs, and sing a couple of theirs in return.
Amidst a bevy of instruments placed strategically onstage, and various light bulbs and strips of LED’s as a backdrop, the entire 8-piece lineup took the stage and the energy in the room bubbled over from the first note. On keys, Ellis Ludwig-Leone’s arrangements were lush and beautiful, with intricate melodies and intriguing rhythms. Every single member of San Fermin contributes integral portions of each song. Lead vocalists Allen Tate and Charlene Kaye’s voices compliment and play off each other beautifully. Saxophonist Stephen Chen was an absolute powerhouse of sound, and I was very lucky to be situated right in front of his position onstage. Michael Hanf handled drum duties and to be honest, was one of the most impressive drummers I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. John Brandon and Rebekah Durham on trumpet and violin, respectively, rounded out the gorgeousness of their sound and while I was unfamiliar with their music before the show had started, they had made a new fan out of me, without a doubt.
Now, if you could already believe this show was in my top 10 of 2015, it managed to take an even bigger turn for the better. Special guests Son Little, Oh Land, Young Jean Lee, Casey Dienel of White Hinterland, and members of Moon Hooch, Cuddle Magic, Pavo Pavo, and Bleachers all graced the stage during different points of the night. Not surprisingly considering the talent of this band, the arrangements of “What If I” by Cuddle Magic, “I’m Gonna Die” by Young Jean Lee, and “The River” by Son Little were elevated to new heights with Charlene Kaye and Allen Tate sharing vocals with the original artists and putting their own interpretation on the delivery of the lyrics and inflections on certain words.
The beauty of the lighting and each member’s ability to use every single inch of the stage and to make sure to connect with fans on several points during the night also enhanced the beauty and magic of the performance. At one point, John Brandon even hopped down offstage and played his trumpet well off into the back of the crowd, before returning to the stage by the end of the number. This tangible connection with the crowd left a lasting impression on everyone in attendance.
The kind of performance that San Fermin delivered on Saturday night could have easily packed Carnegie Hall, and I’m kind of kicking myself for not jumping on the bandwagon sooner. Have no fear though – Jackrabbit has been on repeat since then, and I will continue to make up for lost time until I find myself front row center for the next time they return to New York.
What If I
Ring The Bell
I’m Gonna Die
Article: Lesley Keller