Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bright at Night & Burning River Ramblers / September 15, 2012 / The Union

By: Mike Kasarda, Contributor 

I haven’t seen a live act in weeks. And by weeks I mean probably months.

Saturday night’s groovy get-down at The Union featuring Bright at Night and The Burning River Ramblers remediated the situation indefinitely. Amidst a sizeable crowd of sweaty, giddy and blissfully drunk friends and strangers, I felt a surge of energy emerge from the soles of my shoes, through my legs, around my hips and all the way out my fingertips. It was a feeling I hadn’t experienced in a long time, but surely one I remembered.

Whether I knew the person next to me or not, it was apparent that these restlessly determined 20- or 30-somethings had one objective in mind: dance until they summoned the gods of funk and breezy alternative rock, or at least until they collapsed in a heap of sweat, PBR and chicken-and-waffles.

Bright at Night kicked off the show around 10:30 with boss beats, groovy bass lines, a smooth pairing of trumpet and saxophone, and rousing, energetic, hip-hop flow from Emerson B on the mic. Bright at Night’s rich, tight sound was exceptional and seemed to possess some voodoo magic that sent arms and legs flailing about. The band brought guest after guest on stage, including Dysfunktional Family and members of The Burning River Ramblers, that made every song fresh and exciting. These funky dudes know the art of jamming well and displayed a proficiency in improvisation in songs like “Has Anybody Told You?” With reggae/funk style strumming and silky notes from the horns section similar to newer Slightly Stoopid, Bright at Night produced a set that made me delirious with dance fever.

It was no wonder then that by 12:30 everyone was ready to take this party into the early-morning hours and proceed into the alternative rock adventure led by The Burning River Ramblers. Hitting on what seemed every conceivable genre, BRR provided a plethora of polished tunes that swayed the crowd, ignited enthusiastic moshing, and even sparked a little square dancing and feet stomping – all within the first ten minutes. This breezy bunch fed off the energy from the crowd (which by now had grown to the size of the entire top floor of the bar) and jammed with a zealous enthusiasm that burned hotter than the Cuyahoga River Fire of ’52. The Ramblers stoked the excitement on the dance floor, inviting guest appearances on stage (from musicians to fans and friends) and collaborations with Bright at Night that were true crowd pleasers. The Burning River Ramblers’ performance was a perfect nightcap to a dance-filled evening that more than satisfied all fans new and old.

All in all, Saturday’s show was the perfect physical and musical therapy after a much too long live music hiatus, and reminded me how some good tunes to dance to with some funky friends can really make your weekend outstanding.

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