Following a brief medical issue for guitarist Tom Hamilton, improv rock band Ghost Light has announced that the rest of their east coast tour this week, with shows in Providence, Boston, and New Jersey, will go on as scheduled. Last week, however, the band was unfortunately forced to reschedule a few of the tour’s opening shows last minute, including their planned performance at Brooklyn Bowl last Friday evening—and yet on that night the NYC venue and some local artists jumped to their feet to offer something just as special as replacement.
In the wake of Ghost Light’s cancelation, the venue tapped the band’s drummer Scotty Zwang and bassist Dan Africano to lead a supergroup set of other musicians, which included Craig Broadhead and Shira Elias of Turkuaz, Tash Neal of The London Souls, Eric Biondo of Antibalas and Johnny Butler of Escaper as a horn section, and Andy Frasco, lead singer and guitarist for Andy Frasco and The U.N. As an added bonus, The Brooklyn Bowl also booked local favorites Of Clocks and Clouds for an opening set.
Of Clocks and Clouds blew out the room early on and helped to deliver an evening of jamband rock worthy of a Ghost Light crowd left hungry for it. Being one of the Manhattan jam scene’s most popular up-and-coming bands, this five-piece band bleeds psychedelic rock, progressive metal, and funk into a homogenous, flowing concert experience. Power rock ballad choruses, shrieking guitar solos, dance pop highlighted by funky keyboard work, light-footed, adventurous improvisation—it all fits together in an impressively clean package, and this no doubt owes to the consistent chops of all band members involved. Any bit of the band’s current repertoire , like their original tune “Worst Look,” often demonstrates such a wide palette.
“Hole in My Head” is another original staple from the group, one that, in an ongoing theme, often finds itself paired with different cover material. Fans of the band or Brooklyn Bowl regulars might well remember, from a show at this venue earlier this year, the extraordinary mashup between “Hole in My Head” and Rage Against The Machine’s “Bullet In The Head,” which featured guest hip-hop vocalist Brittany Beckett. You can actually check out a pro-shot video of that version here. At the Bowl show this past weekend, “Hole” this time transitioned via space rock into a fully loaded version of Pink Floyd’s “Time.” After this, OCAC maintained an impressive, invigorating performance through the last note of their set, ending on an unique original tune called “Who I Am.” The original was penned, and sung this night, by drummer Nick Salgo. “Who I Am” wound it’s way from it’s quirky chorus into an unexpectedly thrilling, guitar-shredding ending that prominently featured a tremendous display of soloing from guitarist Tom Salgo.
The Brooklyn Bowl’s surprise main event, a supergroup set of local jam scene artists, started off the night with Stevie Wonder’s “Living For The City,” and a patron walking into the party around this moment could’ve momentarily mistaken this replacement jam session for a Turkuaz show. Ghost Light’s Scotty Zwang and Dan Africano, anchoring down the drums and bass respectively, proved themselves as powerful a team as they’ve been so far throughout shows with their main band. One really special treat for the evening as well was to witness Shira Elias, best known for her backup vocal duties beside Sammy Garrett in Turkuaz, sing lead for the entirety of a set, and right on this opener she shined in this solo effort.
Elias outdid herself later on in the evening, with the help of singer and multi-instrumentalist Andy Frasco, on the most affecting performance of the night, an empowered version of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Covered countless times throughout popular music past, “Blind” saw Elias and Frasco dueting and harmonizing together beautifully, holding their own against history’s ranks of crooner greats. Frasco was only on stage for brief bits of the set, but even inthese bursts he commanded the stage with his renowned sense of ease and confidence. Jumping from his ragtime-style piano playing to mid stage, he both egged on the crowd and coaxed energized solos out of the two-man horn section and Broadhead and Neal on guitar. Nash was like a secret weapon for the group, slinging solos in his pandemoniac, off-the-cuff style into the supergroup’s otherwise sultry, soulful mix.
Other songs throughout the evening demonstrated the surprising on-the-spot cohesiveness between all the other musicians. A huge, fantastic take on Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” featured all eight members on stage in a multi-faceted performance of the song. After it’s last verses, solos from Biondo and Butler on trumpet and saxophone gave the song a funky edge. Then, a quixotically wild blues guitar solo from Tash Neal brought the soul hit into a darker, more exploratory instrumental jam section. “Just Kissed My Baby,” coming near the end of the set, let the band find a peak as an impromptu funk outfit, and had Zwang and Africano hammering out their heaviest, most off-the-wall rhythm work of the night.
Check out a gallery of images from this Brooklyn Bowl performance below, and for more information about future shows, head to https://www.brooklynbowl.com.