Multi-instrumentalist and singer extraordinaire Theo Katzman made his way to Garcia’s at Port Chester’s Capitol Theatre last Wednesday for a show on a tour in support of his latest solo album, Heartbreak Hits.
Garcia’s is one of the niftiest little music venues in the whole country. There’s a constant magical buzzing about the place that adds to the already sweet shows going on there. Katzman’s uplifting set to a brimming crowd this evening was no exception.
Opening for Katzman was New Paltz-based band The Other Brothers. These guys have a great sound and style going for them. Their set was a good split between fun, Ween-type rock, and a kind of funk that sounds good coming from a rock band. Think cool song structures in which very clean, impressive soloing let’s the unique material flesh out enough for lots of natural dancing. The bass playing especially brought a very nice feel – not at all sloppy, but not too rigid to move and walk around.
Having a band that grooves pretty might be a challenge for a member that handles lead vocals alone. The least you can do is nail your parts when they come. On top of that, to be the singer to preclude what Katzman was clearly going to bring next must have come with its jitters. But if that was the case, it’d have been hard to tell in The Other Brothers’ frontman, who had his own stellar chops hit some great high areas, then some soulful areas at other points.
After their show, The Other Brothers called out Katzman himself to start his performing for the night off early. A guitar shot above the heads of the bubbling crowd, and there in the thick of it came Katzman, carrying his axe high in the air towards the crowd. Joe Dart hopped on stage with him, and they jumped with The Other Brothers into a quick-paced, feel-good version of “Boogie On Reggae Woman.” Halfway through, Theo climbed over a speaker to get next to the drummer, asked him if he could join on the kit, and threw some percussion work into the groovy mix.
Right away, jumping off the static that he worked up with that encore, Katzman and his backing band took to the stage for their own set. They hit off the night with “Pop Song,” a great choice for starting off things in a very fun and high energy way.
After a couple more older songs in his repertoire, Katzman broke into some live treatment of material from his newest album, Heartbreak Hits, starting with the slower, more soulful “Break Up Together.” But going next with “Hard Work” as a favorite of many, it’s obvious the spirit of the night was meant to remain pushing its ceiling through to the end.
Listeners of Theo’s show will for sure hear a different kind of bass playing from the wiz himself, Joe Dart. But a lot of Theo’s music’s rock and even punk rock leaning really benefitted from Dart’s consistently air-tight chops. He was in great company, too, beside Katzman’s drummer. Together, two were a rock solid rhythm section that really gave Theo’s danceable stuff their power.
And, as they played, there were nothing but the biggest of smiles, especially on the face of Dart. Katzman was in the zone as band leader, but his band was having an equally good time grooving tightly behind him. Theo addressed his band members, calling Dart “like a brother” to him.
Theo also got to flaunt a role as frontman of his own band. Here, in full stage-presence mode, with charming and at times witty banter linking every song. This is in combination also with a visible degree of humility, in baring a gratefulness for what was clearly the Garcia’s packed crowd’s staying enthusiasm for his music.
But, most clearly the biggest and most upfront motif of all was Theo’s stellar singing voice, which is a real attraction. Most of the time, it’s a pop voice, with its shrill and raspy, guttural sound, but what amazing places it can hit, from the soulful to the punk rock-ready. Above all it’s a youthful voice, sounding like something from a budding artist taking on the world.
Theo came out for a couple of very sullen and mellow bits on solo guitar, nearly whispering, which brought a stark contrast of feel to the excitement of the night. But even in acoustic meditative mode his voice still sounds pretty fantastic. Katzman’s band joined back up on stage to finish out with one from his newest album, “Plain Jane Heroin,” a great tune, sad but melodically feel-good, and a nice choice for a send off.
Article and photo by Miles Hurley