San Fermin Denny Renshaw
Photo Credit: Denny Renshaw

In my extreme old age (I turned thirty this year, guys) I’ve become much choosier about the shows I get out to, especially if they are farther than my immediate Eastside vicinity. I know I have friends who roll their eyes at this. To those people I say, “INVITE ME OUT MORE THEN JEEZ”

Last month I trekked all the way to the Troubadour to see San Fermin. It was 100% worth it, and not just because I found a parking spot less than a mile away. It was one of those shows that reignited my love and desire to be a part of an industry that helps support such amazing art.

Then again, I wasn’t that surprised. From first listen, the latest album from the Brooklyn-based collective, titled Jackrabbit (released on my 30th birthday, April 21, 2015) moved me to the core. Cathartic and epic, always on the verge of spinning out of control into total chaos. Fortunately, songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/mastermind Ellis Ludwig-Leone never allows that to happen, guiding every instrument into perfect harmony at the precise moment to take your breathe away.

Well, if the album is electrifying, the live experience was transcendent. You know how music is sometimes just too much (similar to when one “can’t even”)? When it hits you like a sonic wave has exploded in your stomach and ripples upwards from there. Or getting the wind knocked out of you in a good way. A sensation that brings all sorts of emotions with it; personally, I experience the sudden urge to burst into tears, which I’m assuming is actually a manifestation of joy rather than the opposite. I experienced this feeling at least once during every song.

Every performer “left it on the field”, so to speak, in their own unique, compelling way. Lead vocalist Allen Tate may not exude a commanding frontman attitude, but easily made up for it in sheer enthusiasm, always cheering on the soloist of the moment. Close your eyes and you’ll think you’re hearing a more animated Matt Berninger of The National. Besides, his female counterpart, the magnetic Charlene Kaye, more than filled that role, flawlessly commanding the stage. She weaved in and out of the other instruments with ease, both physically and vocally.

The bottom line: mark your calendars for the next time San Fermin plays in your city. In the meantime, I recommend listening to the album on the the greatest sound system available; that might tide you over until it’s possible to experience that killer horn section going to town in person.

File Under: Orchestral, horns, strings, baroque pop, epic, cathartic, cinematic, Typhoon, Mother Falcon, Arcade Fire