The show that got everyone talking recently, where Ian “killed the guild” by destroying one of his guitars during the song River Jordan, is now available to us in photo, video, and review form. Many fans who attended the show were describing it as intense, confusing, and exciting all at the same time. Thanks to our friends Shannon and Ady at Two Sisters and a Show we can post all about the wild show from Rochester, NY. Below is the review with some photos and videos mixed in. To view the full photo gallery just click here.
The Felice Brothers
Rochester, NY July 16, 2011
Yeah. How does one put a Felice Brothers show into words. I’ve grappled with this before trying to write a review of an earlier show for my own website, and I come to the same conclusion again now. It’s as elusive as trying to explain what the word “the” means to someone, or trying to convey the feeling of “running wild and free” by only using the process of making soup as a medium of expression.
Then compound the problem of turning this show into words by throwing in the surprise element of the impassioned deconstruction of the Guild—an instrument that is at the very least a very beautiful guitar, and in its most elevated state symbolic of all of the beauty and poignancy of the creative expression of Ian Felice.
And then I sit here try putting all of that into some semblance of a review. Ha! Checkmate on me!
But that elusiveness is exactly one of the reasons I am, like so many of you, completely addicted to their music and their live shows. It’s a wonderful problem to have, and despite the fact it sounds like I’m complaining about it, I actually enjoy the “problem” of not being able to express or experience it in any other way than a gut-level physical and emotional reaction that has hit me every time I’ve seen them.
I’m assuming most everyone reading this has heard of the moment where “the Guild was killed,” and you’ve probably also have likely seen the footage by now. As it unfolded, it was met with simultaneous cheers, dropped jaws, and oh no’s from the audience. It’s been four days since, and I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of my time thinking about it, trying to figure out the thought process or reasons behind it, trying NOT to figure it out, trying to just let feelings wash over me without further thought, lamenting the Guild’s non-existence, celebrating its frenzied loss, and being in awe of how it all went down. There is no getting around not reacting to it.
The rest of the show? They tore it up! The set list was slightly heavier and more somber than the last I had been to (Jim Thorpe, PA), but I’m not complaining. We were treated to a most-likely-impromptu haunting and lovely “Goddamn You, Jim” with only James and Ian on stage, the rest of the band creeping back up to finish it off together nicely after Xmas’ bass was bandaged up. “Take this Bread” had all of us dancing and singing wildly, and as is always the case I’ve found, doing so with people I’d up til the show had never met, moments of solidarity and elation. A girl next to me was so over the moon she excitedly felt compelled to tell me during the song it was her first show and that she was in heaven. I got to hear “Endless Night” live for the first time. I should also mention the BBQ-MC’s, sorely out of place, loudly taking over the stage with their announcements trying to introduce the band as they set up, and the MC’s even handling the band’s equipment (expecting a drum roll for their announcement and when the cheeky request was not meet, then reaching over without permission to bang on Dave’s drum head). They were subsequently blasted away like insects in a car wash as “Fire at the Pagent” opened the show.
Then of course the mighty “River Jordan,” which takes me back to the Guild moment. After all the pondering, deep down I know that the raw emotion and the physical act we witnessed was as powerful, meaningful and thought provoking as any lyric, song, novel or piece of art I’ve ever come across that has affected me. I’m pleased to have been there to see it with my own eyes. It’s caused so many of us—present when it happend or not—to think, feel and respond in our own personal way, so much so that it’s taken on a life of its own. For that reason I now think on it all with a crooked smile. The Felice Brothers have done it again and I left yet another of their shows mumbling “holy shit.” What more can I ask?