Punch Brothers Cover a Snowy New York City in Their ‘Phosphorescent Blues’
On a snowy evening in New York City, one of the area's most iconic music venues was packed to the brim with screaming fans. The cheers and excitement weren't for a teen sensation or the latest flavor from a TV talent contest, though. No, the elation emanating from the Beacon Theatre on Manhattan's Upper West Side was squarely focused on five well-dressed men who were -- and are -- doing everything they can to keep folk and bluegrass thriving in 2015.
Even with public transportation operating at a snail's pace (if operating at all), disciples of Chris Thile's Punch Brothers descended upon the 3,000-seat theater for a night of captivating music delivered by a banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar and upright bass. There were no extravagant light shows, no smoke machines, no overdriven guitars piercing the ears of the audience; instead, the two-hour set featured impossibly beautiful harmonies from the five men and cheeky interaction between Thile and the crowd.
Whether it was an instrumental like the barn-burner "Watch 'at Breakdown" or the obvious fan-favorite "Rye Whiskey," Punch Brothers were on point throughout the entire evening, culminating in an impeccable rendition of "The Auld Triangle" from Inside Llewyn Davis. Remember those impossibly beautiful harmonies we mentioned a few short sentences ago? They were on full-display in this a cappella tune, wrapping up with equally as mesmerizing -- though definitely not perfect -- harmonies from the entranced audience.
With a subtle and humble approach to their raucous craft, the Punch Brothers elicited standing ovations all night long, and deservedly so. Still celebrating the release of their fourth studio album, The Phosphorescent Blues, the band's music, both old and new, already proves timeless.
Opening for Thile and company -- fiddler Gabe Witcher, banjoman Noam Pikelny, guitarist Chris Eldridge and bassist Paul Kowert -- was Guatemala's own Gaby Moreno. With her transfixing voice and an acoustic guitar, she was the perfect introduction to whet the appetites of Punch Brothers fans. The highlight of her set came when Oscar Isaac -- the actor who played Llewyn Davis in the Coen brothers' film -- walked onstage to help her with a Spanish tune.
Punch Brothers are on the road throughout the spring and summer, with only a couple of more shows with Moreno as support. Make sure to grab their full tour itinerary here, and check out their unforgettable setlist from last night's (Marcy 5) gig at the Beacon in New York City.
Punch Brothers -- Setlist, March 5, 2015
"My Oh My"
"Watch 'at Breakdown"
"Another New World"
"Through the Bottom of the Glass"
"I Blew It Off"
"Movement and Location"
"The Auld Triangle"
"Wayside / Back in Time"
"New York City"