On Thursday night bluegrass shredders The Infamous Stringdusters made a long overdue stop in Austin for a show at Bass Concert Hall. Local bluegrass quartet Wood and Wire opened. Review by Neil Ferguson. Photos by Arthur VanRooy.
The Infamous Stringdusters do things with acoustic instruments that most rock bands can’t do with electric. Their instruments are plugged in, of course, but it’s easy to assume this band could put on a show with just as much energy if they were sitting around a campfire. On Thursday the Stringdusters brought that instrumental intensity to Bass Concert Hall.
As far as a venue goes, Bass was an odd booking choice, made evident by the crowd, with older folks filling up the seats close to the stage and bluegrass hippies dancing rowdy and free in the back of the Hall. However, when it comes to sound Bass may deliver some of the cleanest in Austin, and for string acts like the Stringdusters good sound makes the live experience that much better.
Besides their unmistakable sound, the Stringdusters distinguish themselves as a live act with their constant stage movement. Throughout the performance band members spun, jumped, and quickly moved about the stage, swapping spots with each other and leaning in close to trade licks in a style reminiscent of heavy metal bands. These types of antics are only possible (unless you want to look like a moron) if you can back them up with some serious playing, and the Stringdusters most certainly can.
The Stringdusters are masters of their craft, and the playing of each band member transcends traditional bluegrass. Banjo player Chris Pandolfi plays with speed and precision in a style unlike any other. At one point his band members mentioned his “banjo funk,” and seemed to share the same awe with the audience as Pandolfi stepped front and center to tear through one solo after another. The same can be said for Andy Hall, who does strange and wonderful things on the dobro, an instrument capable of producing sloppily beautiful metallic guitar sounds perfect for the Stringdusters’ brand of bluegrass. Hall rushed back and forth across the stage making sure whoever was taking a solo had the right musical insulation to back their shredding, and even slayed a few of his own solos.
Diversity and range of both sound and style give the Stringdusters the power to take the audience on a deep musical trip with covers of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes” and The Police’s “Walking on the Moon,” yet play one of the most impressive covers of John Hartford’s “Steam Powered Aereoplane.” Much of the music made now is simply a rehashing of styles that have been done, and for listeners who really care this can be boring. The Stringdusters take ingredients from all genres and skillfully present it to audiences as something fresh and new. Let’s hope they make it back to Austin real soon. -Neil Ferguson
Listen to the whole show here:
Fork, Blackrock, Get it, Home, Fire, LLD, All same, Steam, HC funk, Night comes around, Lovin u, Bonapartes, Banj/fidd, 17 c, Well well, Wakin' moon, Ain't no way, LGC, Like I do, echoes, moon man
Source: The Infamous Stringdusters show archive
Read Neil's recent INTERVIEW with The Infamous Stringdusters!