Concert Review: Todd Bradley, Sandwich, Upstate, Babayaga, Sisters of Murphy

Posted by Frank DeBlase on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 at 12:40 PM

I knew he could do it, I just didn’t realize how well. Bassist Todd Bradley has the chops and the pipes for sure, as he demonstrates as a a member of popular Rochester trio The Hi-Risers. But Thursday, February 7, at Abilene, armed with an acoustic and those aforementioned vocal cords (a foundation-rumbling collision between Ernest Tubb and Barry White), Bradley wove his way in and around songs by Dion, Buddy Holly, and of course The Hi-Risers. Often, a lone troubadour in a bar is background, a bed track for the alcohol-fueled come-ons and the get-losts, or it can be loud and over bearing. Bradley was neither as he anchored the elusive drum-less beat and crooned casually.

I’m tired of working in metaphors for the cold, so let’s just say that I went out for some rock ’n’ roll minus my nuts Friday night. The music made its way out on to the street. It was experimental Sandwich wrapping up its set at Montage Music Hall. The band had a groovy back and forth that hinted lightly at reggae or reggae-influenced bands like Sublime without all the sunshine and peace. Upstate followed with a solid set of jammed-out progressiveness. I want to describe the band as slightly psychedelic-leaning, but wonder if the light and fog visuals planted that seed. Too late, Upstate is psychedelic, and an open-minded unit unafraid to try anything. The crowd was light but that seemed to have little bearing on the band’s collective thrill and output.

The love flowed as copiously as the cream ale at Skylark Lounge on Sunday for Rochester rock ’n’ roll scenesterRebecca Lieving, who is currently battling cancer. Tons of people wedged their way into the joint to wish her well, support the cause, and dig on the bands that donated their time and tunes. Babayaga kicked things off loud and proud. It’s odd to hear a band his heavy with sunlight streaming through the windows. It somehow seems out of context. Despite the priceless look of alarm on the faces of those unfamiliar with the band, it sounded mighty and malevolently cool.

The Sisters of Murphy followed, but the daylight had no impact here as this band simply belongs in a bar any time of day or night. SOM has that keen balance of tradition and rock ’n’ roll roustabout that has the music converting others outside the Gaelic scene. You can’t help but dance and drink a little faster. Get well soon, Rebecca. Rochester rock ’n’ roll --- and its rock ’n’ rollers --- love you and need you.

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