Originally posted on January 30, 2009
Joe’s Pub hosted a New Amsterdam Records extravaganza Friday night. The first of the two sets began with the flute, viola, and harp trio Janus, a thoroughly modern group performing intricately abstract works. Guitarist Andrew McKenna Lee joined the trio for their last song, “The Dark Out of the Nighttime,” written by him for Janus. Lee then performed solo for the remainder of the set, with his now fluttering, now furious fingers, and his music a mixture of esotericism and Hendrixian rock.
The second set started off with Build, a double bass, violin, cello, drum kit, and piano/keyboard group. Amidst striking purple, pink, and green lighting, Build’s songs sounded like soundtracks for: nighttime journeys; or the moment of star-crossed love-at-first-sight; or, in the case of “Magnet,” heart-pounding anticipation. QQQ finished out the set, bringing music for a Tim Burton-esque barn jamboree and a casual stage presence that nonetheless commanded the audience’s attention. The group was comprised of the violist from Janus, a violinist, a classical guitar player, and a drummer playing on a smaller kit made up of floor tom, kick, snare, crash, and hihat (and occasionally, melodica). QQQ’s first song, “Runaway Puppy” was dark and lively, and their second song began with a drum solo—“drum solo!” calls out the violinist—after which the rest of the band joined him for a drunken sounding old time country ballad. The set also included the live premiere of “Sister Sparrow,” a pretty, mournful song that featured whistling from the violist and violinist, and built in intensity as the drummer moved from the whispering of brush on snare, to the muffled boom of mallets on floor tom and crash cymbal.