Even in a big venue, there is something intimate about the opening act. It's early in the evening, and there's much yet to come, but this small and stallwart crowd is here for the whole experience. And though others would trickle in and only be treated to the song stylings of the Watson Twins and newly found twang of Ben Kweller, we few were treated to the Jonas Street Station.
The crystaline plucking of the mandolin and rich thrush of the harmonica started things off, setting the stage for so much more. Jon Hull was running, jumping, practically climbing trees as he leapt from harmonica to accordion and vocals and back again. Danny Erker stood more sedately by, eyes closed as he strummed and lent his rich tenor to the mix. Sam Rockwell channeled Animal in his drums, matching Hull for his exuberance and precision. Walt Wells and Jonathan Benedict pulled it all together on bass and keys, adding their voices to the mix.
It is folk, sort of, and country, a little bit, and rock, too. Mostly, they are just well crafted songs, played in the round as each of the boys threw the melodies back and forth to one another.
"Evergreen" was a clear winner, sweet and sad, but rich with complex vocals and a slightly poppier sensibility. "Flyover State" also brought cheers from the midwesterners in the crowd, celebrating those states you see from the airplane windows, and some serious finger-pickin' chops.
They are still rough around the edges, lacking the smooth transitions and easy stage grace of more experienced acts. But a surprise acoustic number at the end, bringing the growing crowd to silence with lush five part harmony and a clear guitar, shows that more and better is yet to come.