By Hollie Jones
It was a great surprise when my favorite band Caveman returned home from their stint at Austin City Limits last week, to play the By Robert James showcase at The Wooly downtown. The second I found out, I stopped what I was doing, RSVP’d and paid far too much money to get a cab across the river in good time. And I encountered what was perhaps the best show of the week.
The venue was incredible. The Wooly- a Barclay Street bar was cavernous enough to pack in an energetic crowd without anyone feeling claustrophobic and yet small enough to ensure an intimate live music experience. Drinks were not too pricey, especially for downtown Manhattan ($8 beer & shot) and the good people at Whole Foods had generously laid out platters of PBJs.
Although the first band had sadly wrapped up by the time I arrived, I was warmly greeted by the soulful vocals of Kendra Morris. The blue-eyed soul singer, 2012′s incarnation of Janis Joplin took the stage to showcase a lyrically diverse jazz, soul and R&B inspired repertoire, that documented a relationship throughout various stages. Check out her album Banshee which was released August 28.
Next up were US Royalty an all-American four piece from Washington DC. The crowd were instantly drawn to the stage to drink in the electric on stage band chemistry, spellbound by the swagger of polka dot shirted front man John Thornley. US Royalty played blues flecked, hook filled tracks, embellished by Hendrix style guitar solos. Their sound was cinematic (think gritty Western), mixed with a hint of Fleetwood Mac and blended with blues to stir up songs unique to the US Royalty brand. At the end of the set, an energised crowd demanded an encore, a big achievement in a room filled with devoted Caveman fans.
And then arrived the much anticipated Caveman. Never ones to disappoint, the New York quintet nailed songs from their 2011 debut CoCo Beware and treated the crowd to material from their next album expected in the spring. Caveman, perfectly polished, showcased their ethereal indie sound, complete with harmonised vocal hazes and abstract synth swirls. There is nothing quite like Caveman’s murky brand of bewitching rock and Caveman really are leading a genre of their own. At the beginning of the set, fans were disappointed as Matthew Iwanusa announced the loss of his beloved tom drum on route to the show. The highlight of the show was when lucky for him, and us, this was returned to rapturous applause in time for primitive pounding on their performance of album’s opening track: “A Country’s King of Dreams”