After a quiet 2020, the night before Thanksgiving in 2021 showed signs of reviving the musical flurry that’s traditionally kicked off the holiday weekend. Local Spins captured the vibe at three Wednesday shows.
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It may no longer qualify as the busiest bar night of the year – and crowds overall were thinner than in the past – but Wednesday’s celebratory nature of live music at venues across Grand Rapids proved that many bands and fans are ready to make up for lost time after a crippling COVID pandemic.
Even while coronavirus numbers among the unvaccinated continue to cause concern, the mostly vaccinated crowds gearing up for the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend cheered everything from:
• Alt-rock faves The Verve Pipe’s VIP show at Listening Room;
• Stone Soup & The Broken Teeth and Jon Bassin at Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill;
• Desmond Jones, Flexadecibel and Zack Volkers getting musically wild at Elevation inside The Intersection.
Those were just a few of the offerings as revelers roamed the streets and Local Spins roamed from show to show for recaps of the musical action. Scroll down for photo galleries and videos.
THE VERVE PIPE AT LISTENING ROOM
The early show at Listening Room was a VIP affair (fans who bought VIP tickets for Friday or Saturday’s Verve Pipe shows got a special VIP-only concert on Wednesday) that began with Brian Vander Ark and company playing the band’s brand new album, “Threads,” from start to finish during the first set.
That proved to be an impressive, 12-song spectacle, with the band deftly and tightly performing the tracks that Vander Ark co-wrote with singer Channing Lee, who adds a charming and dynamic sheen to The Verve Pipe’s performances.
The second set featured requests and favorites, starting with Vander Ark’s solo rendition of “I Don’t Want to be a Bother” from his 2005 album, “Angel, Put Your Face On.”
Some tickets, $45, still are available for The Verve Pipe’s shows at the 200-capacity Listening Room at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Details, links here.
PHOTO GALLERY: The Verve Pipe at Listening Room
Photos by Eric Stoike
VIDEO: The Verve Pipe at Listening Room
STONE SOUP & THE BROKEN TEETH, JON BASSIN at TIP TOP DELUXE
It wasn’t a big crowd at Grand Rapids’ Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill but that didn’t temper the enthusiasm of the performers on stage, including the Tip Top debut of singer-songwriter Jon Bassin who recently returned to his native Michigan and opened the show with compelling Americana-tinged material.
Members of Stone Soup joined Bassin for the final two songs of his set before launching into an ear-pleasing, smile-inducing volley of soulful rock led by singer Nathan Walton, who continues to turn heads with his passionate vocals, aided by some splendid band harmonies.
Tip Top’s weekend lineup continues with Hank Mowery & The Hawktones on Friday, and Myron Elkins, King Possum and Dustbus on Saturday. Details here.
PHOTO GALLERY: Stone Soup & The Broken Teeth, Jon Bassin
Photos by John Sinkevics
DESMOND JONES, FLEXADECIBEL, ZACK VOLKERS AT ELEVATION
The Intersection in Grand Rapids hosted three shows in its various venues on Wednesday night, with West Michigan jam band Desmond Jones headlining what’s become a Thanksgiving Eve tradition at Elevation.
The late show heated up with sets from Zack Volkers & Friends and Muskegon’s Flexadecibel – who injected a funky, party-up vibe to the celebration – before the kaleidoscopically colored, glittery Desmond Jones took the stage.
The Desmond Jones boys wasted little time rocking the joint, kicking it all off with an absolutely thunderous, searing rendition of “Poor Sylvester,” propelled by the intense, fervent drumming of John Nowak.
Lengthy, festival-styled jams followed, from “American Dream” to “Shadow of Venus” that closed out the main set before an encore that wrapped things up in the wee hours of the morning – after a long night of Thanksgiving Eve melodies.
On Saturday, The Intersection continues its holiday festivities with the return of Mega ’80s in the main showroom and Allium & Friends, AceMyth and Dissonance in the Stache. Starset, The Word Alive and All Good Things play the main showroom on Sunday. The lowdown at sectionlive.com.
PHOTO GALLERY: Desmond Jones, Flexadecibel at Elevation
Photos by Nathan Purchase and John Sinkevics