Last week, I posted about Steve Kimock’s Wednesday-night NYC residency at Sullivan Hall, and as promised, I was able to hit the second show of the residency this week. Steve’s crew for week two featured Marco Benevento on keys and circuit-bending toys, Marc Friedman on bass, and Adam Deitch manning the drum kit, altogether a stunning mix of solid NYC talent for what amounted to be a killer show.
Overall, the tone of the show was loose and fun, with Steve pushing the boundaries of these “NY youngsters” and testing their improvisational chops. Songs were really just used as vehicles for the improvisation, and nearly every “song” they played took on that open-ended jamming approach, moving way beyond the structure of the tune. Of course, with musicians this skilled and adept at improv, that’s definitely where the real magic happens, and that seemed to be the main purpose of the night. Given the looseness of the songs they played, it was clear that these guys had barely rehearsed together and that approach was entirely on purpose; they wanted it to be totally fresh.
They kicked things off with Kimock’s classic “Ice Cream Factory” which featured a mellow, extended intro and a jam that meandered through some really interesting themes and included some killer fretwork by Steve. The “Ice Cream” jam eventually morphed into an all-out soul-blues romp, settling into some kind of classic blues progression that I just couldn’t put a finger on it (maybe Willie Dixon? Albert King?). This jam was really a perfect example of the approach I described above. But words and photos can only do so much for all-instrumental improv-based music, and thanks to photog Marc Millman (who I met at set break), we’ve actually got video of almost that entire “Ice Cream” jam section. It’s a long progression, but definitely worth checking out in full:
If you’re curious about that switch to classic blues jam, fast-forward to ~6:30 when things start to really heat up. They may have just pieced that tune together on the spot, but whether or not they really knew what song they were playing, they certainly seemed like they were having an absolute blast figuring it all out together.
The band also hit on some heavy grooves with a fuzzy take on Marco’s version of “Twin Killers” (a Deerhoof cover from his Me Not Me album). I was able to nab a video from the tail end of this one, which shows Steve ripping into the slide licks and the band digging into some nice “funky-yet-psychedelic” territory:
Next up was the slow, wobbling groove of “54-46 Was My Number,” which brought out a bit more bluesy funk along with some spacey, washed-out psychedelia. Luckily, Marc also got that on video (thanks again Mr. Millman!):
With a couple exceptions–like their rompin’ second set take on the Beatles’ “I Feel Fine”–the band generally stuck to signature tunes that have become Kimock classics over the years. The band seemed to have a ton of fun switching up the time signatures with Steve’s original “5b4 Funk.” In set II, they ripped through the uptempo blues of “You’re the One” before turning it completely on its head with a long and open-ended improvisational stretch (including a slow, Mideastern desert-like theme that was definitely interesting). They hit on more of the funky themes with “Merles Boogie,” and also did a more contemplative & emotional, instrumental version of “Point of No Return,” which is pretty much a rarity since Steve’s days with KVHW (Kimock, Vega, Hurtz, and White).
Overall, this show was just the quintessential Kimock, featuring a little taste of all of the signature styles that make him such a great–and underrated–guitarist. We heard ripping blues solos, powerful slide leads, emotional minor-chord passages, unique & interesting rhythm work, and of course, that light, lilting and seemingly effortless finger-dancing-across-the-fretboard that is just patented Kimock. But, this was definitely NOT a solo gig with Steve and a backing band. His entire crew was well-chosen for all their respective stengths and they basically put on an improv clinic. Marco brought the distortion-laden keys & circuit-bending psychedelia, lending some really interesting textures and rhytyms. As always, Marc Friedman was stellar and understated, tastefully laying down the low-end. And, damn, Adam Deitch….so tight, so funky. He brings this powerful, almost hip-hop-style groove that puts a spark in every band that he’s part of…such an underrated drummer in the scene today.
But ultimately, one of the best aspects of this show was just how much fun these guys looked like they were having up on stage. As I always say, when the band members are lovin’ it, the crowd can see, hear & feel that vibe, and that was definitely evident at Sullivan Hall on Wednesday night. Good times.
Read on for more photos, setlist, audio links, and all that jazz.
You can check out the full photo set here.
Also, make sure to grab the audio over at etree.
Steve Kimock & Friends
3/30/11 @ Sullivan Hall, New York, NY
1) Ice Cream extended intro
2) Ice Cream Factory
3) Twin Killers (Marco’s take on Deerhoof tune)
4) 54-46 Was My Number
5) 5B4 Funk
1) You’re the One
2) Oh Sweet Nothin’ (?)
3) Point Of No Return
4) Happy Days are Here Again (?)
5) I Feel Fine (Beatles cover)
6) Merle’s Boogie