December 11, 2015. Punch Brothers: Chris Thile, Gabe Witcher, Noam Pikelny, Chris Eldridge and Paul Kowert. The Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE.
It was a birthday present for our daughter. Her seat was at the foot of the stage, close enough to feel you’re in the same small room with the musicians, enjoying the music together.
It’s Progressive Bluegrass but the term explains poorly; I think you have to be a listener to understand what it means. Five virtuosos who play bluegrass that’s pure bluegrass then Debussy then songs which are bluegrass /jazz /folk /classical all woven together. These men are at the top of the list in their field, and at the top of their game. They are incredible to watch, and to listen to live.
Themes are occasionally familiar bluegrass (Boll Weevil). More often they’re about living in a narcissistic and deconstructed world while trying to navigate technology and relationship, usually unsuccessfully. The overriding theme of The Phosphorescent Blues is the compromise of human relationships in a screen-obsessed culture.
GOH in Wilmington has the best sound system I’ve ever heard. It’s an opera house, after all. The band was huddled around one microphone. On purpose. You could hear a pin drop from 20 feet away. The musicians are so expert and meticulous that one supersensitive mike was to their advantage.
Here are my two illicit pictures. The Grand Opera House in Wilmington doesn’t allow distracting phones and cameras.
When my daughter and I share an interest in a band it’s often because she shared them with me. But we discovered Punch Brothers together. The connections went like this: Switchfoot…Fiction Family…Nickel Creek…Chris Thile…Punch Brothers. There’s a vast universe of interrelated music from a few fine musicians who basically work all the time.
The final song of the night: