Rubblebucket, Bowery Ballroom, NYC – 1/28
Rubblebucket started as a dream by University of Vermont students Alex Toth and Kalmia Traver, and now, five years after the pair graduated and relocated to Brooklyn, their band Rubblebucket is emerging as one of the live music scene’s most exciting young bands. Making a name for themselves in the constantly flourishing, jamband-friendly Burlington music scene, Rubblebucket have been riding a wave of buzz after releasing their critically praised album Omega La La last spring. That wave of buzz followed Rubblebucket around the festival circuit this summer, and helped them sell out Saturday night’s show at the Bowery Ballroom in advance.
Between Rubblebucket and opener Superhuman Happiness, the Bowery Ballroom played host to a Saturday night dance party. For Superhuman Happiness, led by Stuart Bogie of afrobeat band Antibalas, Rubblebucket is the perfect touring partner. Superhuman Happiness’ afrobeat infused pop caught the ear of the crowd and the band undoubtedly gained more than a few new fans.
Like Superhuman Happiness, Rubblebucket combine a collage of influences – ranging from indie pop to funk, jazz and world music. Taking the stage with mics draped with day-glo scarves, Rubblebucket sounded like the Talking Heads with an acid-fueled psychedelic edge. Like the Talking Heads, Rubblebucket’s music is catchy with sing-along choruses, and the band members charmed the crowd with entertaining dance moves.
But with a full horn section and a double percussionist attack, Rubblebucket’s music also has a powerful funky punch. Kicking things off with “Worker” from their last album Omega La La, the band quickly demonstrated their ability to mix musical styles – as the song stretched from atmospheric experimental rock to funk. The band continued to play through Omega La La material with keyboardist Darby Wolf throwing the crowd into a dancing frenzy during his solo on “Breatherz.” The band then dipped into a new song, which was highlighted by psychedelic textures from the talented keyboardist, before driving into the crowd-pleasing funk of “Silly Fathers.” But it was a surprising cover of Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” that really energized the place, as huge cardboard robot puppets surfed over the crowd. The song also saw Stuart Bogie of Superhuman Happiness hop on stage to deliver a blazing sax solo and jam with Rubblebucket’s talented horn section.
Rubblebucket managed to keep up their manic energy and antics, closing out the night with a trio of songs from Omega La La – “Came Out of a Lady,” “Down In the Yards” and “L’Homme” that saw some crowd surfing from trumpet player and bandleader Alex Toth. From the crowd surfing to the puppet robots and day-glo scarves on the mics, Rubblebucket is an unabashedly fun band. But their lighthearted approach is backed by some serious musical talent, and between irresistibly catchy melodies, funky rhythms and fun stage presence, it’s no wonder that the band is already thrilling enthusiastic, sold out crowds.