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REVIEW: The Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile @ McDonald Theatre (Eugene, OR – 3/16/11)

19th Mar 11 (Sat) Leave a comment

I hadn’t heard the Punch Brothers prior to the show, outside of a few clips on their webpage… but what I did hear, I knew I’d love it.  I have also been a fan of frontman Chris Thile’s mandolin work with Nickel Creek; so I knew what to expect from at least his performance.

The show started with a delightful set from local fiddler prodigy Tatiana Hargreaves (backed by Scott Law on guitar).  I had seen Tatiana play (with her brother Alex) during Works Progress Administration’s show at the WOW Hall in 2009 – which is a side project from Glen Phillips and Sean & Sara Watkins (from Nickel Creek as well)… so her opening for the Punch Brothers made perfect sense.  Her set was a great warm up for what was to come (sorry, no photos came out of Tatiana & Scott, my camera was acting up).

The Punch Brothers went on shortly after Tatiana’s set.  No flashy stage set-up or lights, just five guys and their instruments.  The Punch Brothers are Chris Thile on mandolin & vocals, Gabe Witcher on fiddle/violin, Noam Pikelny on banjo, Chris Eldridge on guitar, and Paul Kowert on bass.  They played a hour and a half or more with a great split between rollicking bluegrass vocal numbers and more stretched out instrumental pieces.

The overall musicianship in the entire group was evident early on.  They were a quite tight five piece string band, and the lack of drums was barely noticeable – their use of rhythm duties amongst the strings was more than enough to keep the jammy, progressive instrumental movements rolling along.  Since I don’t know their material all that well, I can’t really help out on the setlist front.  I know they played “Rye Whiskey,” the Beatles “Paperback Writer,” a stunning mandolin-centric version of Radiohead “Paranoid Android,” and Chris Thile did a riveting Bach piece on solo mandolin. Also, per Serena from the Register Guard, they covered the Strokes and Josh Ritter as well.

Fantastic show, and I shall get to know their music before they swing through again.  Their latest CD is 2010’s Antifogmatic (pictured to the right).

more photos below

The Appropriate Linkage:

Next show for me… probably Lawn Gnomes & Upstate Trio @ Cornucopia (3/25) or Pojama People (an Oregon Frank Zappa cover band) @ Sam Bond’s Garage (3/26).

~Dan – np: David BazanFewer Moving Pieces

all pictures (cc) 2011 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution

(click for larger)

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