Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers and Carbon Leaf @ Bowery Ballroom, NYC

Live Reviews | Nov 30th, 2009

Date: November 28th 2009

For the last 3 years, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers have played New York City on Thanksgiving weekend. I decided to check out their show since one of my favorite bands was opening for them, Carbon Leaf. The bands played over 2 nights at Bowery Ballroom. I wasn’t going to dare New York City traffic on Black Friday so I decided to attend the Saturday show instead. Of course there was still some traffic on the George Washington Bridge (like usual).

The sold out show started around 8:30pm with Carbon Leaf hitting the stage, and played roughly for an hour. An hour is a great length for an opener so I was pleased that they played that long. I wish they played longer though. They were the band I was there to see anyway, no offense to Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. Barry and the band opened up with “Lake of Silver Bells.” That song still remains a favorite of mine off their new album “Nothing Rhymes With Women.” The guys were in top form as always, with Barry getting into the songs “dramatically” like he always does. I’m sure other people don’t like him being “dramatic” like what was overheard Saturday night, but I always like frontman in bands moving around and that have personality. If he’s just standing there and singing, that’s friggin’ boring! After the first song, they played “What About Everything,” “One Prairie Outpost” and “Life Less Ordinary.” It’s always interesting to see what songs Carbon Leaf is going to do, and their setlists always change every show it seems. I’ve seen them 3 times since May and each time has been different.

A song I haven’t heard yet was played that night too, which was “Snowfall Music.” That would be silly to play that during the summer when the band was touring. That would be like playing “X-Ray” during the winter. Barry played the acoustic guitar during that song and “Snowfall Music” has definitely been a song I’ve been listening to a lot lately. It was nice to finally hear it live. “The War Was In Color” was done nicely, as well as “Drops of Rain.” I think the highlight for me (and many people in the audience) was when the band played “Learn to Fly” unplugged. No mics, just acoustic guitars and Barry’s vocals. I’m always impressed when bands like Carbon Leaf or Great Big Sea do this. The final songs of their set were a cover of The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence,” “Let Your Troubles Roll By” and a mixture of “Rocky Road to Dublin” and “the Boxer.” It ended things off great and made me wish see the band the night before as well. But I’m sure Carbon Leaf will be back again in the Spring or Summer. Only disappointment was not hearing “Miss Hollywood” again but like I said, there will be plenty of Carbon Leaf shows in the future.

The band most people were there to see that evening was Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers (SK6ers). There was an announcement that the show was being recorded for a live album so that was cool to hear. The band’s introduction was funny because it was a montage of a few things like Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas and Van Halen. I’m not really too familiar with the SK6ers music all that much. I know a few songs here and there, and still getting into their music. Their music is a bit on the twangy side and I have to be in the right mood to listen to them.

But with that said, the stuff that I saw was great! The band was lively for the first few songs, and then they hit a snag. Stephen’s guitar wasn’t working after bopping around on stage. They kept trying to make it work in between songs, and then it would happen again. In the mix of the chaos, they played their single “Shady Esperanto And The Young Hearts.” I’m glad they played that song early on because it was one I really wanted to hear. Their music video for that song is fun to watch because they got a huge marching band to dance with them. Then after that, an even longer delay to more guitar problems. At this point, you can see the frustration in Stephen’s face but you can tell he was trying to keep things in good spirits. He told the crowd to get a drink and come back in 10 minutes. Meanwhile, the drummer and guitarist were playing various classic rock songs to entertain the crowd. That was amusing to hear, and Stephen said he wished that was included on the live album. After they got things rolling again, the band played a few songs including “Glassjaw Boxer.”

At this point, my girlfriend and I decided to leave because we both were feeling under the weather and had to drive over an hour and a half. I would have liked to see more from Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers but I can always just listen to the live album, whenever that comes out. I thought both bands were excellent, and I personally loved Carbon Leaf’s set just because I know all of their songs.


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