Junip at Lincoln Hall: Concert pictures and review
As someone who takes in live music on a regular basis, I often find myself anticipating a very specific moment during each band's set: a particularly cohesive verse, chorus or song. It's an elusive phenomenon that many groups can't quite manage to achieve, thanks to jockeying egos and the delicate nature of live sound. Sunday night's bill at Lincoln Hall presented two bands that pulled off this feat throughout their respective sets, commanding the attention of the sold-out audience.
First to the stage was Phox, a seven-piece band from Madison, Wisconsin, that specializes in the kind of moody, melancholic balladry that seems to flow freely from its corner of the midwest. The group's expansive songs were filled out with banjo strums, clarinet flourishes and blasts of trumpet, recalling the meticulously-composed chamber pop of Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver. It was all held together by the powerful voice of Monica Martin, a woman who sounds like she's singing even when she's just speaking to you.
Backed by a towering image of a fawn, José González and his band Junip wasted no time delving into some of the most compelling entries in the group's catalog. Harnessing a deft blend of folk-rock and synth-fueled psychedelia, tracks like "In Every Direction" and "Suddenly" contrasted precise rhythms and subtle electronic tones with González's gentle guitar chords. Though the core trio was backed by three additional auxiliary players, the compositions retained a minimalistic quality, showcasing González's lyrics and keyboardist Tobias Winterkorn's Moog melodies. "You notice it matters / Who and what you let under your skin," González sang against the driving strains of closing track "Line of Fire." He could have been referring to a relationship, but I'd like to think he was acknowledging the affecting quality of a great performance.