When you’re set to experience a motley crew of solo artists and musicians from other bands playing together for the first time, for a short tour, you never know what might happen.
Glorietta, playing their brand of rock, folk and country tunes, cast a loose but ready vibe on the Rock and Roll Hotel on Friday, October 19th. The newly crafted band came on stage with smiles, sporting sunglasses at night, and at least one bottle of vodka, while some (like Glorietta’s driving force, Matthew Logan Vasquez – lead singer of Delta Spirit) proved to be a wee bit tipsy. Set times are fungible (8pm listed), and since the band hadn’t done their soundcheck according to plan, Rock and Roll Hotel didn’t let anyone get their tickets or enter the bottom floor until closer to 8:30pm, when the show kicked off around 9pm. Even the $25 sign at the ticket window was turned on its head.
Kelsey Wilson (of Wild Child) commented at one point during the evening that this was definitely their ‘first and last show in DC’, due to the fact that they couldn’t endure the craziness of roping in, night after night, such a disparate collective of musician friends. Being friends is one thing, having to regularly play together is another.
Between one to seven musicians graced the stage at any given moment (or eight when they brought up a mentor from the crowd), and five of them would rotate singing duties, including Matthew, Kelsey, Noah Gundersen (solo artist from Washington State, and the only one NOT from Texas), David Ramirez (solo artist), and Jason Robert Blum (solo artist). Adrian Quesada is also listed as an ‘official’ member of Glorietta, playing guitar, and then the drummer was ever-present. They were able to play a lot of songs (22 total), as some would bounce in and out to rest or find a drink (presumably), depending on the song or who was playing it.
So what was the end result of DC’s edition of a Glorietta concert?
First, I really enjoyed the energy and the rendition of many of the songs they played. I’ve listened to their one (and presumably only) album, Glorietta, a few times and liked almost all the tracks.
Second, they enjoyed themselves immensely (some more than others), and you could tell they did like playing together, riffing and jamming and just being good friends together, only in a fishbowl, with the bemused audience peeking in.
David Ramirez kicked the evening off with “Loser’s Lament”, before Noah Gundersen sang the quiet and haunting “Golden Lonesome”, with Kelsey going strong on the violin. Also, midway through, Noah (known for his indie folk) would lead for a three-song set, that started with a slow, languid, almost unrecognizable cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Noah wanted to pay tribute to his home state because there were too many Texans represented. My friend returned during that song and later remarked that he didn’t realize it was Nirvana, so mellow and stripped of its normal cadence. But it worked with Noah’s vocals, as well as the next song “Lincoln Creek”, a heartbreaking ballad of remembering the good old times with friends, and lamenting the choices you might have made to move on or grow up. In fact, quite possibly the future theme song of Glorietta!
One of my favorite songs had Matthew put down his vodka bottle and sing his heart out for the blues rock, high energy “Heatstroke”. He may have reached peak heatstoke during his lively stage comportment.
Kelsey also sang a few songs, including the cover of Wild Child’s “Sinking Ship”, a bit of a come down from the high energy of preceding songs and later songs. In fact, the transition from fast to slow was often not subtle, like after Noah played his set, Matthew joked that ‘(Noah’s) songs were not sustainable (being so slow), so they were going to now get serious and rock’, where said rocking included a cover of Texas Tornado’s “(Hey Baby) Que Paso”.
The encore started with their “Friends” from the album, where they all came together in a (conga) line and attempted to sing in harmony, arms linked to shoulders, smiles taking over.
They ended by blasting the fairly pleased crowd with Garth Brooks’ “Friends in Low Places”, and we joined in by singing it back as loudly as possible.
We may never see Glorietta perform together live again, so this single moment in time (concert) should be cherished, and you can still definitely pick up their album, it will be well worth your time. Maybe pair it with a bottle of vodka.
Sinking Ship (Wild Child cover)
Easy Come Easy Go
(Unknown solo David Ramirez song)
Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana cover)
(Hey Baby) Que Paso (Texas Tornados cover)
Red Fish (Matthew Logan Vasquez song)
Angel From Montgomery (John Prine cover)
Friends in Low Places (Garth Brooks cover)