Steve Kimock Band, Mexicali Blues, Teaneck, NJ 3/4
There is something special about some openers. They serve as a declaration of tone and perspective; they can color the whole night. I find this is especially true for SKB- many of my favorite shows have distinct, particularly driving or particularly spacey or particularly bright or particularly sweet openers, like gateways down a singular path. For the four year anniversary of Mitch's first show with the band, the High & Lonesome was just such an opener, warm and rich at the outset, Steve toting out an old Fender Mustang to do the job. By the second passage he was racing for perilous precipices and skidding down slides of notes. When he finally ran his course, the music chilled right down into a stylish close.
Electric Wildlife featured a central solo from Mitch, blocky and burning as might be expected, and a cool little one-time drop from Rodney at the end. Those cool little moments are what make such music so engaging. Mitch was again in the forefront on Ice Cream Factory, playing a wobbly, wa-wa line that, coupled with deep, throaty playing from Kimock, declared a wide, open space. Rodney, Leo and Mitch set up a tight, funky groove as Steve sketched a gigantic cosmic arch from high to low and back to the top. The room was deep into the night by this point, and set for a monster Samba. Steve began strumming and plucking the steel guitar all alone, a brooding contemplation. The rest of the band began to rumble in beneath, eventually becoming more and more involved, and even pushing the lead. Rodney hit a stride and Mitch's counter swelled toward a bursting point. When the moment snapped, a crazy, strutting jam shot forward. By the time the actual song rolled around, Steve was mighty, mighty high. Sighs and big, slashing notes, hand repeatedly snapped back from the strings, marked his solo- at the climax, his guitar roared like a pipe organ with all the stops pulled.
After a long pause (no one seemed to mind the breather), the quartet closed the set with a nicely matched In Reply > Malachi- a much more satisfying coupling than the old In Reply > Sabertooths (Saberteeth?). Coming off the majesty of Samba, the first tune s normal melancholic drama seemed especially large and looming, painted as it was by the glistening, beautiful notes pouring off Kimock's Cripes. The band left the confines of composition and drifted deep, deep into outer-space. Eventually, Rodney and Mitch began to crash and collide with increasing speed, and the quartet rose up into Malachi, Leo digging down on the angular bass line, so clean and round. Steve was immediately wicked, fast, as if picking on an untapped reservoir- a sly, energetic way to end the set.
The second set began with a very fun, and relatively distinct 5 B4 Funk, Steve playing a jazzy, twangy black guitar for an uproarious first outing, and as well as for the second, deeper jam. Rhythm based, it harbored some aggression, and made for a satisfying offering. The first half of the second set lost most of the stardust and settled instead into a rocking guitar mood. WMD had a nice solo from Mitch, a molten, bubbly sound with Steve lingering, misty above, and Bouncer was a shred platform tinged with rockabilly. A sudden second dose of shining SKB came with Kissin' the Boo Boo late in the set. The brite, clean music shot straight into the ether, there bouncing about like a lost electrical charge. The two tones, the heady and hardy, came together finally in an expansive, rolling Hillbillies on PCP closer, or at least they rubbed up against each other in the song's shifts from Appalachian gothic to island breezes. I was lost in the music and movement, enjoying the best area SKB show since this time last year.