As the last national Warped Tour goes on, it continues a last run at introducing music fans to bands they may never have crossed paths with. In this same vein, at Warped Tour 2011, I was introduced to an entirely new genre to me from a band that just killed it in 110 degrees. That genre was Bluegrass and that band was Larry and His Flask. I’ve supported their album fundraising since and made it a goal to catch them anytime they are in Phoenix. Of course, that meant their tour through town with Acousta Noir was no exception to that goal.
This was my first time seeing Some Dark Hollow. They are local guys with a Country and Americana sound. A little slower for my taste of music, but they put on a great performance. Their lyrics tackled the day to day goings and self-reflection of life that many of us can relate. Certainly a better product than many of the big guys of the genre put out. While not completely in my taste of music, Some Dark Hollow did a good job opening.
Following them were the other locals of the Haymarket Squares. Since I last saw them, two new changes have occurred in members. Replacing John on the regular guitar and vocals, we have Greg Wingard. In addition, we find Mark Sunman playing one less instrument with Rudy Cortese, a banjo state champ, taking over that duty. Both these guys picked up the slack and only improve on the sound of the Squares.
The set itself was an amusing and energy filled night of tracks I love like “Heaven” and “Let’s Start a Riot.” Continuing an end of set tradition for them, they unplugged and played their last song from the floor of the Yucca Tap Room. There is a reason I always praise the Haymarket Squares, and it is every time I watch them.
Then the first of our touring music, Acousta Noir, took the stage. This one man band is Joshua Esterline out of the same home state, Oregon, of Larry and His Flask. Armed with a bass drum, a hi-hat, a guitar, and banjo he plays a darker line of folk and bluegrass tunes. With a direct conversation going on between him and the audience, it made the set feel more intimate. With blind expectations going in, he left a solid impression on me. I will keep an eye out for the next time Acousta Noir passes through town.
Last were the guys fresh off of playing Punk Rock Bowling twice the prior week, Larry and His Flask. They bring an enthusiasm and lyrics that most people define them as a “Punkgrass” band. There is energy in the rooms and music spaces that their on stage performance exudes. It isn’t just guys you’d expect making this happen like Ian, on lead vocals, and the literal stand up drummer, Jamin Marshall, either.
His brother on bass probably moves the most, occasionally to sing and play harmonica. Though more impressive, he does a lot of it with a stand-up bass in his hand. Larry and His Flask is in and out of the audience, jumping around, and making it a party. This Phoenix crowd quickly found themselves moving their feet. Larry and His Flask are the guys that introduced Bluegrass to me, and they keep making such an amazing impression that I always want to catch them anytime I am close to their shows.