Greensky Bluegrass Recap
Rex Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA – Thursday, 4/25/13
By Ryan Neeley
Pittsburgh welcomed Greensky Bluegrass into town Thursday, and Greensky dished out an energy-packed bluegrass infusion to the walls of the REX Theatre, putting smiles on the faces and energy in the legs of everyone in the near-capacity crowd. In fact, I would dare you to try not to move or tap your feet at a Greensky show. It seems that the energy is contagious – a constant give and take between the Michigan quintet and the crowd. These talented musicians can handle a traditional mountain ballad then turn the corner into a rock song at the drop of a dime, and have covered the likes of Pink Floyd to Michael Jackson’s Beat It. And Thursday would be no different.
The boys camed out to Dustbowl Overture, a proper opener with vocalist/mando player Paul Hoffman’s long reddish-brown hair blowing while taking the lead on vocals on the opener, with dobro player Anders Beck and Mike Bondt on banjo trading licks. Beck showcased some amazing slide and pedal work right out of the gate and guitarist Dave Bruzza, outfitted in a Detroit Tigers hat, sounded crisp, giving the audience a first taste of what was in store for their ears for the next few hours. They followed with Radio Blues, then a slow, mythodical Jaywalking, with upright bassist Mike Devol adding tight harmonies to the chorus. They ended the first set with a rarely played Wines for Wheels and Don’t Lie, the opening song on their 2011 Handguns release.
Going into the second set, the excitement in the crowd was palpable, and Greensky did not disapoint, at times stopping only long enough to comment on how much fun they have playing in Pittsburgh. They came out firing with Cold Feet, then played crowd favorites Out of Control and Can’t Stop Now, Hoffman belting out the lyrics and Beck shining on the dobro. After the high-energy song, Beck exclaimed, “If that doesn’t make you feel good, the door’s right over there.”
One of the evening highlights came towards the end of set two, when Greensky went into Leap Year >Time>Breathe Reprise> Kerosene – The Pink Floyd classics were performed flawlessly and the Pittsburgh crowd voiced their approval loudly. But the fun was far from over, as they came out for an encore to remember with members of the opening band Fruiting. They started with a fun Catch me a Jesus, lyrics regarding catching Jesus as a fish sung by Hoffman, but finished with an amazing rendition of Led Zeppelin classic Whole Lotta Love, with Fruition lead vocalist Jay Cobb Anderson rising to the challenging highs this song has – slide dobro funkiness, thunderous bass notes, this song had it all and was a proper end to an amazing night.
It seems that Greensky Bluegrass is a band that takes bluegrass to new levels, shattering stereotypes and constantly rising to new challenges, but having fun doing so. It’s that energy and attitude that is missing in other music today, and I’m sure they’ll continue to attract new fans who may not have considered themselves bluegrass fans, but are without a doubt Greensky fans.