There are musicians that fans tend to place in a whole different class than the rest of the musicians on this planet. Jimi Hendrix, we place in a category as the best electric guitarist of all times simply because he was able to develop sounds that no one has been able to conquer since his presents. Then you have banjo greats like Bela Fleck and Steve Martin, who have not only brought an instrument out of existence but have brought it into mainstream music. Both have so much skill that they are able to play 4-string, 5-string and 6-string banjos with ease. The same can be said about Robert Randolph and the pedal steel guitar. However going back to the days of Nickel Creek up to the modern days of The Punch, Chris Thile should be placed in a class of his own for his nobility and charisma for the mandolin. Thile is simply a beast when it comes to the mandolin! No disrespect to the rest of the band cause Thile is backed by one of greatest acoustic guitarist in Chris Eldridge which some of you may recall from the early days of The Infamous Stringdusters. The band also includes banjo player, Noam Pikelny, and fiddler Gabe Witcher which backed Thile on his solo album, How to Grow a Woman. Do not underestimate Witcher on the fiddle cause he can also tear it with the best also. What’s so inspiring and intriguing about this band is on any given night they might play Gillian Welch, Beck or perhaps a Radiohead cover like Kid A off their most recent studio album, Who’s Feeling Young Now?
As I walked down 4th street in Louisville it felt as if were in a historical theatre district. Later did I find out that the lavish historical Brown Theatre was originally built in 1925. Since then the theatre has had numerous state-of-the-art renovations. The Punch Brothers nearly sold out the 1400 seat theatre. Those who did not attend missed out on an awe-inspiring performance that left goose bumps especially when Thile played some Bach during the Encore. The band started the evening off with a quick mandolin rift yet mellow in “Movement and Location” off their most recent studio album. The band has this infectious energy about them which they showed in “Flippin” Bassist, Paul Kowert starts out with this heavy bass line that sounds like thunder roaring in the back ground with a straight up jam between Thile, Eldridge and Witcher. Although the band covered mostly newer music off the new studio they did dip back into the days of Antifogmatic and play “Missy,” a beautiful fiddle solo. Witcher would also play an old time fiddle tune, “Piney Woods” The band would close the first set with a fan favorite and great mandolin piece in “Rye Whiskey.”
The epic part of the night was during the encore when Thile came back out and played a beautiful bone chilling Bach piece on the mandolin at the edge of the stage. The crowd would remain standing and quiet as the band would finish off the night with a piece that would be a history lesson to Kentucky in “Moonshiner.” Although being in a theatre atmosphere The Punch Brothers are extremely versatile to their audience and knows how to provide an epic stage performance that makes the crowd dance within their own seats. STORY/PHOTOGRAPHY MARK LOVELESS
The Punch Brother Live at The Brown Theatre / Louisville, KY /February 5, 2013
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