A better Thursday night of the Golden Gate Wingmen’s weekend around the Mid-Atlantic couldn’t have been hoped for. To a packed house at NYC’s Irving Plaza, the band, led by guitarist John Kadlecik and consisting of Jeff Chimenti, Reed and Mathis and Jay Lane, delivered both a praise-worthy performance and an ecstatically fun evening.
An additional surprise for the night was DJ Logic as a fifth wingman, performing a majority of the show on his turntables. Though scratch tables and Dead-inspired rock may sound like an unconventional pairing, the matchup proved to be awesome throughout.
“It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry,” a great opener choice, started the show off confidently, with Kadlecik providing a fat, rich tone on his guitar and wailing his vocals from the start. Kadlecik, most noticeably, played almost zealously all night long. Whether he had something to prove, or just happened to be feeling it this evening, he brought a level of eagerness and chops to this night’s show that was cool to witness.
His original, “Giving Me The Business,” first brought Logic into the mix, to duel a bit with Lane, and it was a neat pairing. But the good stuff in this department was still on its way.
They closed set one by throwing down “Shakedown Street” as an early gem for the night, to be the strongest Dead number of the first set. Using a couple of righteous solos from Chimenti and Mathis as waypoints, the jam went on as smooth a disco ride as ever, eventually landing on the first great drum-bass-scratch breakdown jam of the night between DJ Logic, Lane and Mathis. The three locked in nicely for something so good that Kadlecik and Chimenti jumped back on it for a second extended B-side of “Shakedown Street.”
With the combination of Mathis, Lane, and Chimenti comes a lot of freedom with songs, born out of their individual musical reflexes working easily with the others. It makes for an any-moment, drop-of-the-hat versatility that leaves material completely open for creative experimentation. This allowed them to thoroughly flesh out their signature reggae style of playing “Sugaree,” the end of which John Kadlecik was trilling his guitar ridiculously hard. The door was wide open for “It’s Alright,” Reed’s “Far Enough,” and “Brown Eyed Women” to venture out on nice, crispy musical jaunts. To many an ecstatic response from the crowd, the space following “Brown Eyed Women” oozed into a rendition of Zeppelin’s “The Rain Song.” Sung gracefully by Reed and played nicely all around, it was a beautiful high point of the show.
A few times, the jams were capped off by these drum, bass and scratch breakdowns, better each successive time. DJ Logic, tactfully inserting his scratches into the improvising fray, seemed to be very much on his toes, figuring out how to fit into the magic these four already shared. This included the “Terrapin Station,” which coasted low to the ground and was relaxed throughout, but its second half surged into some solid funk, with Logic once again blending in nicely.
For the encore, they gave another signature change up to “Ripple,” played like you wouldn’t even hear from Grateful Gospel. Kicking off on a daring funk beat, it followed into a rolling upbeat groove, with more righteous playing from Kadlecik.
Golden Gate Wingman | Irving Plaza | New York City, New York | 2/23/17
Set 1: It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry#, The Business#, To Ramona#, Ramble on Rose, It’s Alright, Shakedown Street#
Set 2: Sugaree#, Far Enough#, Brown Eyed-Women, The Rain Song, Lady With a Fan > Terrapin Station#, So Many Roads, Not Fade Away#
# w/ DJ Logic
Written and Photographed by Miles Hurley