Saturday May 9th I was diligently working on the blog for most of the morning when I decided to head to Zig Zag‘s a little early, knowing Kyle Nicholas, Zig Zag’s band mate in Innocent Uprising, was playing an acoustic set at The City Cafe it wouldn’t be too difficult to twist his arm into serving as my navigator for the evening. Last time I’d seen Kyle he had said he was sharing the stage this night with Andrea Belanger, someone he KNEW I’d like and shouldn’t miss. Pulling off I-95 I noticed the marquee at The Box and was reminded Sinister Minstrel and Gravity Works were playing there this fine night as well. SCORE! I parked at Zig Zag’s place and ran down to the box to say hi to some of the guys I’d been running into so frequently, and got the skinny on when they each would be starting their sets. Change of plans, I think I can squeeze in bits of four acts tonight, time to put on the game face. When I arrived to Zig Zag’s I found Zig Zag and Kyle packing up the portable PA system and loading it into the car after which we each cracked a beer and chatted. Kyle reiterated the point that I shouldn’t miss Andrea’s set tonight, but they were going to be trading off half sets, allowing more patrons throughout the night to see each of their acts. Thank you sir for making my logistics all the easier for the night! Kyle headed out and after some prodding Zig Zag was ready to come out for the night. I told him of my ambitious plan, and got him even more excited, but we still had to wait for his friends to arrive before we took to the road. We waited for a bit and Jess arrived with another of their friends, we all grabbed another brew from the fridge in wait for Meg, who was coming over for a few shots before hitting the clubs.
After the girls had their fill we walked down the block to The Box to catch a bit of Sinister Minstrel’s set. Arriving a few songs into the set already, I quickly grabbed the camera to capture “Lady in Green” as Zig Zag and the ladies started a game of video bowling:
Consisting of Zack Fenner on electric lead guitar and vocals, Mike Davis on acoustic rhythm guitar and vocals, Jeff Saitkowski on bass and Nic Deigan they always put on a high energy fun live show. This version of “Lady in Green” they were all at their “A” game. Zach belted out strong lead vocals while Mike complimented them with good backing/harmonizing vocals. Jeff laid a good blues groove while Nic tapped out stead beats from behind the kit. Halfway through the song Zach decided to tear into his guitar for a smoking hot solo. Sinister Minstrel in general has a great humor about them, half their songs are a bit humorous in the vein of Tenacious D or Flight of the Conchords. Knowing full well we wouldn’t be attending The Box for the duration of Sin Min’s set I wanted to capture the next song, “The Execution,” as well. I started to roll the camera, and was notified it was my turn at bowling, pardon the camera pass to Zig Zag at the beginning of the clip:
I didn’t happen to catch any of their “crack you up” rock songs this time around, but they have a few posted on their myspace, and clips from an earlier show at The Box. Zach started off a “Minstrel Toast” making sure to lend further purpose by following it with an announcement of Mike’s wedding the coming weekend. Starting slowly with a trance inducing musical score the song quickly changed pace and broke open. One of their more serious songs a first person piece of a man headed to his death at the guillotine. The song concluded and Zig Zag and I conferred, we agreed that we should start to head downtown to catch a bit of both Kyle and Andrea’s sets. The ladies and Zig Zag finished their beers and we started saying our “Until Laters” and headed out the door, with full intention of returning before last call. I remember during packing up and heading out the third song I heard bits of had a really good bluesy bass line, and solo, overall the song reminded me a bit of Jethro Tull. Sinister Minstrel absolutely “rocked the box and my socks” had I been wearing any. We packed into the cars and headed down to Dorrance Street.
Arriving just in time with Zig Zag’s perfect directions through the maze of downtown Providence, we caught the tail end of Kyle’s last song of his first half set. Half starving I noticed late night menu placards and ordered myself a BBQ chicken pizza, it arrived just as Andrea Belanger was starting her first song, and hit the spot. Immediately taken aback by her folk guitar style and powerful pipes in a small package, I wolfed the pizza as fast as possible so I could take some notes. I recorded her second song I believe entitled “Say Goodbye:”
Zig Zag came up to me and started to comment on the song while I was recording, as I gave him “The Stare” and cut it out sign. Contesting that thats what made live recordings so great, you hear me bellow “Not when its the person holding the camera’s commentary.” Which of course winded up louded than anything Zig Zag said. Sometimes I’m such a dolt. So the song was beautiful her voice matched the strum and picking patterns well and was poetically deep, what you can hear over my own asshattery. The Cafe was alive with conversation, sometimes I wish everyone paid as much attention to music as I, but I too enjoy a good chat. Spotting an open place on the comfy couch next to the stage I thought the location would suit me better for audio/visual recording. The City Cafe is a great little bar with a good menu, but I do so wish the stage was a bit more lit. Andrea broke into another lovely song “Empty Without You:”
Damn that girl can pick her guitar strings (if only you could see the intricacies), and using only her thumb and forefinger I was impressed. She continued her beautiful set with a song she had yet to title:
The whole set she was amazing at finger picking and throwing quick chord changes between plucks and strums. Kyle was right, I shouldn’t have missed this, and I did love it. Seeming a little nervous on stage she still played and sang her heart out with her unique cadence. The depth of her songs echo to me that Ms Belanger is an old soul, and I’m sure will provide plenty more of these touching numbers. I returned to the table top to finish my Guinness and enjoy the rest of the set. She thanked the crowd gracefully and handed the stage over to Kyle. Having seen him perform plenty of times with Innocent Uprising I knew he is a great performer, but this was my first opportunity to catch Kyle’s solo acoustic act I’d heard so much about. As he began this portion of his set with Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” I crept closer to the couch seat again:
The guitar was a big soft so Zig Zag crawled up to the PA for some mid song adjustments. It was a good version of a great classic, and Kyle made sure to make it his own. Very folky and strum driven his style definitely caught the crowds attention a bit more. Andrea and I talked a bit about the difference in their styles, I was searching for the right word when she called Kyle’s style very “rhythmic.” I enjoyed Kyle’s vocal style, providing mostly backing vocals for Innocent Uprising I’d only heard him sing lead vocals on one song previously. He next played what I believe to be an original song:
Again right out front with his driving rhythms and quick chord changes, his stool could barely contain him as he got into this song. It was a great catchy tune, I couldn’t help but bob my head along with the song and Kyle. To close the song he took the opportunity to showcase his vocal range by holding an impressive high note for some time. I believe the next to be an original as well, but I haven’t confirmed either with Kyle yet. Another catchy tune with some great strum rhythm:
I had to get closer again when he played another original, this one I recognized from Innocent Uprising sets. Zig Zag joined on stage to provide backing vocals and some beat box to help fill out a great version of “Show a Friendly Fist:”
Kyle was finishing up his set as we started to make our way back out again towards the car. We arrived to find Providence’s finest providing me with a ticket, apparently my car’s ass end had breached a handicap zone. Fully my fault I accepted my $100 ticket with humility as I tried to curtail Zig Zag’s pleading with the officer. Apparently Zig had history with this officer as earlier in the week he had found and returned a friend’s car that had been stolen earlier in the week, history aside I accepted my fuck up and we made our way back towards The Box.
We arrived back in time to catch a couple from the gents of Gravity Works. Zach, Paul, Nate, Marco and Joe were well into the tail end of “The Unveiling” when we walked back into The Box. It was great to catch them play again, this time headlining they had the opportunity to really extend their tunes. I had the chance to catch a 9 minute version of “Points,” and can’t help but chuckle at the end when the hecklers crack up Nate:
Last call was sounded and I grabbed a brew while enjoying a great version of “Hamilton Bupo” to round out GW’s set. As the night wound down, and I said my goodbyes I’m glad Zig Zag and I decided to make it a marathon run of an evening. A few of us chilled back at Zig Zag’s for a bit, but quite exhausted I took off shortly after 2am, to retire for the evening.