The floor of Lincoln Hall was packed to standing room only and the upstairs only a few empty tables stood without chairs. A little after 10pm Sharon Van Etten took the stage. Supporting her in this tour are Ben Lord on percussion and Doug Keith on guitar. “Ummm..I never know what to say at times like this.”. She said as she tuned her guitar. “I’m wearing a shirt from Theadless. Do people here like Threadless? It’s a skull exploding into a light-bulb.”. Playing songs from her new album Epic and a few new songs, Van Etten engaged the crowd and introduced almost every song with a dedication. “This song is for Chris and Michelle. Ben sends his love.” She said as she introduced “Save Yourself”.
The show seemed to take on the intimacy that a show would if it were at a much smaller venue. In between songs the crowd shouted out questions and she entertained them with answers. “I hope I don’t burp during this song.”, explaining that “Don’t Do It” is actually a song about her gas problem. Van Etten’s beautiful folk/rock songs are so captivating that it’s easy to get lost. Dedicating “Love More” to her friend Rebecca who did the art for her albums, Van Etten caressed the harmonium delicately, thus filling Lincoln Hall with a hauntingly beautiful melody.
The crowd delighted when Jose Gonzalaz’s new project, Junip took to the stage with ease. Awaiting for the band, a multitude of instruments including Moog and Nord, bongos, 2 keyboards and several percussion instruments. Concentrating on keeping his guitar in tune, Gonzalez wasted hardly anytime between songs. Playing most of the EP Black Refuge, and a few songs from their upcoming album, Rope and Summit.
Junip is consistent with Gonzalez’s solo work as far as style and vocals. With Junip there is more concentration on chord progressions and embracing the unique sounds of synth and organ. As with his solo shows, Gonzalez rarely engaged with the crowd and kept focused on his music. This didn’t seem to bother many fans as the show was more and more hypnotizing with each song. It almost seemed that Junip cast a spell on the crowd at Lincoln Hall.
Junip is as dark, enchanting and hypnotizing as indie folk-rock can be. Gonzalez keeps the lyrics simple and has done an impeccable job at layering on the extra instruments. As hypnotizing as this band can be, it can be just as easy to drone out of concentration as a fan. Perhaps they wanted to save time by playing song immediately after song. What’s hard for fans at shows is that while they do want to hear the whole album. They want some new stuff too. They also crave acknowledgment and are curious about the music. It would have been nice to know where some of the songs came from. Maybe in the future Junip will give us some anecdotes. Until then, they will keep you mesmerized.