The 11.11.11 show featuring Mergence, Kongos, The Technicolors, and Huckleberry was long anticipated. And you could feel that excitement all throughout the night at the Crescent Ballroom.
Arriving around 9:45 pm, the patio was packed, the lounge was packed with diners and hipsters, and a small population of fans was watching the Technicolors past the swinging frosted doors the main hall.
Kongos went in around 10:10 for their last show in town until spring, and while their delivery was fantastic, the sound was so damn loud, it made you blink twice and want to leave the room. I spent the first couple of songs praying that the sound would be adjusted at least halfway through the set, or at least by the time the other bands went on.
The band of four brothers garnered a big crowd, and while I'd never seen them live, it was clear that I've been missing out. First off, I've never seen so many people head-bang to an accordion. Secondly, the vocal performance was incredible.
"This must be the coolest new bar in town!" shouted the singer (who can ever tell these brothers apart?) to the mellow crowd. At first I thought that the crowd should've been moving way more than it was; but I was proved wrong halfway through the set when a beat started out that, at first, made me think the band was going to cover Dr. Dre's "What's The Difference," then launched into a chunky rendition of the Beatles "Come Together," with shrill guitars and a rap solo.
As Kongos played on, the venue became more and more packed, and the crowd couldn't have been more eclectic: To my left, a guy in a suit and tie with slicked back hair as if he he were Patrick from American Psycho; to my right, a guy in a leather jacket, beanie, and sunglasses; in front and behind me, hippie chicks boho-dancing all around hipsters.
Mergence went on around 11:20, but not before setting up their stage very carefully, from a giant Nautilus fossil to a frolicking armadillo sculpture to a quail encased in glass.
"Thanks for being here with us!" shouted the singer before launching into one of their most well-known songs, "Dynamite & Kerosene."
"I love this song!" screamed a barefoot woman next to me, probably in her mid-40s. She pulled a guy toward her, easily 6-foot-3, who appeared terrified of her.
Mergence continued on through their set, speaking rarely except to thank the audience and nod in gratitude to the excitement emulating from the crowd.
I love the band's ballad "If You Know," for its sexual energy, I wasn't the only chick that felt this way. In the front half of the crowd, girls pulled their boyfriends, husbands, or just the nearest guy around to dance in slow, gyrating rhythms. In fact, as I was attempting to take some photographs by the stage, it was made clear by death stares that the girls in that area didn't appreciate me trying to invade on their close-to-the-musicians-as-possible territory.
The band proceeded with a handful of songs from their debut album, and then went straight into a couple new songs that created a buzz among their fans. "Harvest" was thoughtful and moody, but a little to tedious for my tastes compared to some of their other slow-paced, yet electrifying, jams. The other new songs they debuted though were fantastic towards the end of the set, just when the crowd was heating up not only from body heat but from the fact that there was no air circulation in the joint.
On a side note: The guy next to me throughout this show, with a gorgeous hippie girlfriend, was huge drenched in sweat -- his Grizzly Adams beard, long curly brown hair, and huge black sweatshirt tied around his waist that almost touched his barefoot feet doing a rain dance on the concrete floor was a sight to see all on its own. The other attention-grabber? An old man in black cowboy hat and black leather jackets doing Shooter McGavin fingers at the stage.
Mergence went into an encore very quickly to the chanting and cheering crowd, as the lights flickered and the packed crowd was cheering their asses off. Sure, lot of people have called 11.11.11 "Heavy Metal Day" but it belonged to all of rock 'n' roll.
Mergence Set List:
Dyamite & Kerosene Northern Lights If You Know The Road Time Flies Girl Fear God Eulogy Wintertime Harvest My Prayer Soul Blinding At the Salt Reckoner Me, My Family & The Robots
Critics Notebook: Last Night: Mergence, Kongos, the Technicolors and Huckleberry at Crescent Ballroom
Personal Bias: I think that Mergence is one of the most inspirational and unique local bands around; they just have to continue to live up to their name in order to make it big.
The Crowd: Everything from gangly hipsters to barefoot hippies (literally) to city slickers in suits to rocker chicks.
Overheard in the Crowd: "That guy has the biggest Adam's apple I've ever seen!" -- regarding the lead singer from Kongos.
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