Paulie Pesh at the Satellite on Monday May 30th, 2011
Paulie Pesh was opening the night on Monday at the Satellite, and it was definitively a night of large groups, since his band was occupying the whole stage with violin, trumpet, tuba and clarinet players, two drummers and a few guitarists and basists.
I counted 11 of them, they looked like a big family, and reading a little about them, they partially are, at least frontman Paulie Pesh and singer Cristal are married, and the whole band idea was a spontaneous one as he explained in an interview:
‘I decided to run with the idea of incorporating brass, woodwinds and strings with my music and I just called a bunch of my friends and family and got them on board.’
Was it that simple? I don’t know but it works. And it is pretty unusual to incorporate so many instruments in a band, after all, folk rock is usually based on the classic trio guitar-bass-drums, but Pesh has said to have been inspired by the likes of Randy Newman, Paul Simon and Harry Nilsson, and some writers have already compared him to Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, and Brian Wilson,… Sufjan Stevens? I could totally hear that.
There were a lot of female-male vocal harmonies and this bouncy and effervescent orchestral ensemble, a sort of chamber pop à la Arcade Fire – yes this name came to my mind a few times during their set – uplifting the audience minds in the same manner, building a lot of expectations with the drumming, and climaxing a few times, but in a less bombastic way than the Canadian band does.
There also were a lot of these romantic strings, dueling with a powerful horn section, and Pesh was a passionate vocalist, contrasting with his wife soft harmonies. Any of their songs was giving the impression it was ready to explode at any moment in an overload of optimism, and the hooks were definitively there, whereas some songs seemed to venture into more disconcerting territories.
His enthusiastic delivery was making Paulie Pesh all sweaty, and a girl in the crowd brought him a towel. ‘Am I offensive?’ he asked. Actually there was nothing offensive about their liveliness and inspirational music that was putting a smile on everyone’s face.