On a warm, even hot, weekend in Brooklyn (so much for summer being over), Brooklyn Comes Alive took over the Williamsburg waterfront with two days and nights of non-stop music at three venues. The bands ranged from rappers to assorted jam bands, one-time cover bands and collaborations that came together for the festival. With people coming together at Brooklyn Bowl, Music Hall of Williamsburg and Schimanski, there was a variety of what you could expect from your venues during the day and late night. Here are some of the best things we saw from the festival that blended into the fabric of the Brooklyn neighborhood.
1. Eric Krasno:
The Soulive and Lettuce guitarist was everywhere over the weekend. He was one of the main attractions at Schimanski on Saturday night with Rooster Conspiracy. Then he joined the special Allman Brothers tribute at the Brooklyn Bowl as a special guest to shine on the guitar. Then he closed out the whole festival at Brooklyn Bowl with an hour and half set where he brought out special guests all night including John Scofield, Nigel Hall and Chris Loftlin. Artists just kept on coming as the night came to its eventual conclusion for an inspired jam session.
2. Mix of Sports and Music:
Normally you don’t think of festivals and sports mixing together, beyond people wearing jerseys of their favorite teams, but this had a very unique touch. Brooklyn Bowl is a multi purpose venue with music being one of the main attractions, especially that weekend with the festival. Then there are those going for some bowling and just to grab a drink. Being Saturday and Sunday there was plenty of football and the slate of games was actually pretty interesting at times. The TVs in the back near the bar have the games for those who want to stand away from the music. Normally they don’t have that many people watching since they are near the stage.
But Saturday night, it got packed around 11 p.m. as Penn State made its final drive down the field to beat Iowa on a last second touchdown, which sent dozens of people into a frenzy and the loudest cheer I heard all weekend at any of the venues. It was a surreal moment where the rest of the crowd looked back and was really confused and the band had to make sure they didn’t stop through the commotion.
3. Prob Cause making the most of it:
While there were some shows that were pretty packed, others were sparsely attended. It seemed like a lot of the non-jam bands had trouble getting people into their sets. Chicago rapper, Prob Cause was booked for Music Hall of Williamsburg from 10-11:30 on Saturday night, which should be a primetime slot, but there were maybe only 30 people there. In a 550 capacity venue, it was obvious.
But he made the most of the experience, noting that when he becomes famous everyone there will remember that one time they saw him at a very rare intimate show at Music Hall of Williamsburg. He spent most of the show rapping on the floor with the crowd lapping it up in a half-circle around him. On one track he even allowed two fans to rap their own verses. It was a party and Prob Cause embraced the moment.
4. Dave Harrington Band:
After Prob Cause came Dave Harrington & Friends and the tone was quite different. Dave Harrington and his band came out for a spacey and hypnotic set that wove melodies and rhythms together in one seemingly endless pattern that waxed and waned like the jam bands around them. It was the type of electronic music that fit with the rest of the festival. It was weird and haunting at times and felt like some space odyssey on acid. It was awesome and mind-boggling all at once trying to fit together all of the sounds. They just washed over you in the most wonderful way.
5. Allman Brothers Tribute:
The headline slot on Saturday at Brooklyn Bowl was for an all-star cast of artists celebrating the music of the Allman Brothers. With the recent passing of Greg Allman, it felt right to have the likes of Bernard Purdie, Dave Harrington, Brett Bass, Joey Porter and Eric Krasno, among others, come out and play selections from the Allman Brothers' storied and celebrated discography. They also brought out the young savant, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer for yet another surprise on the night.
One of the ultimate jam band collaborations at the festivals, Al Schnier and Vinnie Amico from Moe teamed up with Aqueous for an hour and a half set at Brooklyn Bowl on Sunday night. It was one large celebration of prog rock and jam bands with two drummers two guitars, a keyboard and bass. They had to fight through some technical difficulties, but they were jamming and the crowd appreciated every second of it. These rare collaborations are the types of things that make this festival unique.
7: Matador Soul Sounds:
A new band that played one of their first shows ever on Saturday, Matador Soul Sounds showed that they could have some legs in the jazz, funk and jam band scene. With Alan Evans on drums, they have the star power to get their name out there and the talent around him to really rock some venues. They have an album coming out next spring with singles on the way throughout the rest of 2017 and the music that was played sounded like a treat.