The Infamous Stringdusters timed their late-fall trip into New York City with the first snow of the season. Throughout Thursday afternoon it snowed considerably, but the show must go on! Although some Stringdusters fans no doubt got stuck in New Jersey and Long Island, the Gramercy Theatre was packed with music fans eager to warm up with some progressive bluegrass sounds.
After an opening set from The Way Down Wanderers, the Dusters set up for the first of two sets. Kicking things off with “Don’t Mean Nothin'” – the lead track off their 2012 album Silver Sky – the string quintet was clearly unaffected by the weather outside. Despite the cold, they were hot as they made easy work of “Head Over Heels” and “Sirens”. “Rockets”, another Silver Sky track, worked its way into something called “Destination Jam” on the setlist, but in the moment it was just a clear display of epic improvisation, heavy on guitar work from Long Island native Andy Falco, by the air-tight Stringdusters.
Their chemistry on stage is truly something to behold. They could play Lincoln Center and the pure musicianship would be up to par with anything the building regularly hosts. While many jam bands wear their mistakes as a badge of honor, The Infamous Stringdusters seem to just not have any audible warts at all. It’s unprecedentedly sound in its execution.
A couple of newer songs from 2016’s Grammy Award Winning album Laws of Gravity followed the epic jam. “A Hard Life Makes A Good Song” made sense after a day of miserable commutes and avoiding slush puddles. The opener motif in “Gravity” ushered in some excitement from the crowd. The feel-good sing-along nature of the song is wonderful, especially coupled with the vocals of bassist Travis Book. As New York warmed their bones by jumping up and down during the chorus, any stress from the day’s weather was put behind them.
Better yet, “Gravity” segued into a full-blown, ten-minute “Terrapin Station” bust-out. New York City loves their Grateful Dead music deeply, and it was fantastic to hear Falco flawlessly lead the charge on the 1977 classic. A well-deserved set break followed, as the band and certainly members of the crowd needed to catch their breathe.
The night was far from over, and the second set would just build upon the energy that the first one had created. The band weaved the music of Nintendo’s Mario along with a Phish cover (“Possum”) and a couple more Dead tunes in “Dancin’ in the Street” and “Tennessee Jed”. In nearly nonstop fashion, The Infamous Stringdusters fluidly changed styles, moods, and tempos as a single organism. The jams were top notch, and moments of pure bliss were visibly felt by many members of the audience, including yours truly. The band ended things with “Fork in the Road”, one of their best-known tunes, before inviting the Way Down Wanderers to the stage for an encore of Blind Melon’s “No Rain” and the bluegrass standard “Steam Powered Aeroplane”.
With a roughly three-hour show, The Infamous Stringdusters made the journey through cold rain and snow well-worth it for anyone who was willing to take the trip. Definitely don’t miss these guys when they come through your town!