The Grammy-winning band lit up the sold-out Royce Auditorium on Thursday night with impressive instrumentals and vocal harmonies. The review and photo gallery at Local Spins.
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Anyone who still thinks acoustic instruments might only be meant for slow tender ballads should have been at Grand Rapids’ St. Cecilia Music Center on Thursday night.
The Infamous Stringdusters put that notion to rest.
This Grammy Award-winning progressive-folk band harnesses seemingly superhuman virtuosity on five traditional bluegrass instruments to form a cohesive, rhythmic and symphonic sound that goes far beyond conventions and into some interesting uncharted musical territory.
The Stringdusters are rooted in bluegrass and old-timey music, but they push the genre by blending classical forms, jazz and rock rhythms to create a fluid sound which truly captivates — evidenced by the rare, stand-up-and-dance vibe the band generated amid the capacity crowd in the normally staid confines of Royce Auditorium.
Multi-harmonic vocals drove songs forward and delivered uplifting lyrics, but the biggest highlight by far was the group’s extraordinary instrumental work, truly launched into orbit on the third song. Jeremy Garrett delivered what can only be described as a face-melting fiddle solo, taking his instrument to places that seemed to defy the laws of physics.
After that instrumental monster wound down, there was a short pause in what had been continuous music up to that point.
“The ‘Dusters won a Grammy (for 2017’s “Laws of Gravity”), I don’t know if y’all know,” Garret said to riotous applause before the group launched into the next tune.
It was the first of many solo sections highlighting the talent of each band member: Garrett (fiddle), Andy Falco (guitar), Chris Pandolfi (banjo), Andy Hall (dobro) and Travis Book (double bass). The evening’s set was reminiscent of an old-time circle jam. Their ability to push their individual instruments to the limits was impressive, but what was even more notable was the cohesion between this accomplished and seasoned group. Through all the various tonal and rhythmic shifts, the five-piece band based in Nashville knew exactly when to play with everything they had, and when to hold back.
The stage lighting gave excellent cues to the audience and added a great visual component to the Acoustic Cafe Folk Series show, unfurled for a mixed-age audience that leaned toward an older demographic with a good portion of under-30s fans on hand, too.
St. Cecilia provided the perfect Grand Rapids venue for listeners who wanted to sit and absorb the musicality and thoughtful orchestration of the Stringdusters’ repertoire. The audience was seated for most of the show, but by the end of the night, half of the fans in the 650-seat venue made their way to the front of the room to dance.
Touring behind their ninth and latest album, “Rise Sun,” which the band self-produced, The Stringdusters are on tour through July, with upcoming shows in Chicago and Minneapolis.
Next up for St. Cecilia’s Acoustic Cafe Folk Series: A sold-out show by icon Rosanne Cash on Feb. 19.
PHOTO GALLERY: The Infamous Stringdusters at St. Cecilia Music Center
Photos by Anna Sink