Despite the gritty, English vibe the name Joe’s Pub conjures, this New York City venue exudes American class. Beautifully decorated with two tiers of tables, a full bar, and an assortment of fancy dishes; I could not think of a more perfect place to host Son Lux and Jonny Rodgers. Both artists have the ability to get you up and dancing, but (especially with Son Lux) I recommend appreciating them as you would a classical concert or live theater. Son Lux blends musical entertainment and musical sophistication exquisitely.
Son Lux Plays Joe’s Pub in Brooklyn
Jonny Rodgers opened the show with a guitar, a looping pedal, some programmed sounds from his laptop, and a wine glass station – yup, a table full of wine glasses containing various amounts of water. The result was absolutely extraordinary. Jonny could sing, loop his voice, strum his guitar, and run his fingers over the wine glasses in seamless formation – producing ethereal sounds reminiscent of early Phil Collins. I was completely in awe of the showmanship.
Then, Son Lux and his crew came out on stage and, to my delight, Jonny stayed up there at his wine glass station! The wine glasses did nothing but compliment Son Lux’s breathtaking performance. However, there are some things I should mention… Son Lux is a recording artist first, and a performer second. His ambition to recreate his sound for a live show is great, but he has yet to perfect this. This may sound like a disappointment, but I assure you it wasn’t.
Son Lux played the entire Lanterns album (his latest effort from Joyful Noise Recordings) from start to finish. This is an album with a plethora of soundscapes and intricate melodic elements (if you listen closely, you can even hear a reprise of a melodic theme from his first album). He clarified at some point during the performance that he was playing a version of the album, and not the album itself.
This live version was paired down with a quintet of singers, a bassist, a guitarist, a drummer, a modified baby grand, and (of course) wine glasses. Sound effects and some instrumentation from the album were used and the timing, for the most part, was impressive. Still, when you compare this live performance to the magnitude and musicianship of the recording – well, it pales. There were EQ problems consistently and at one point, frontman Ryan Lott’s keyboard stand broke.
But the charm of the show was in its “diamond in the rough” appeal. I felt privileged to be at such a loose show of Son Lux’s because I know in the future there will be no such thing. This is not an artist that slips into obscurity. While he is certainly off the beaten path, I have immense faith that this star will rise so much higher than where he is now. In just a few short years, Ryan Lott has made some powerful friends – NPR, Sufjan Stevens, Rian Johnson; these people love what Son Lux is doing, and soon a lot more people will.
Son Lux’s encore was a modern jazz rendition of “Stay” from his first album. He joked to the audience that the five people who bought his first album were ecstatic, and that they were bragging about knowing about it before anyone. I was honored to be one of those five.
Article by Jade Shames