Greensky Bluegrass 12.8.10
Words & Photos By Greg Molitor
For the many of us who see shows on a regular basis, concerts provide a chance to escape the daily grind, but every once and a while, we unexpectedly see a show that completely floors us. These moments are what we seek as concertgoers; like a swift roundhouse kick to the heart, an incredible show often reminds us why we became infatuated with live music in the first place. On December 8th, 2010, Kalamazoo’s Greensky Bluegrass rolled into Lansing and laid down a performance so thick, so soulful that I couldn’t help but shed a tear or two…ah, what it is to be alive!
I arrived to Mac’s Bar on Michigan Avenue a few minutes into Greensky Bluegrass’ first set, and as a casual fan, I selfishly was disappointed to see a gazillion people crammed into the tiny bar. I give kudos to the band for having such a wonderful turnout, but at that time, my thoughts were not on the band’s success, but my own. Come to find out, the world does not revolve around me…not even close. I’ve learned this the hard way in the past and will surely need a reminder for the rest of my days. Luckily for me, the catalyst necessary for me to pull my head out of my ass was performing onstage this evening. As a fan not familiar with Greensky Bluegrass’ song repertoire, it’s a difficult task to dissect its set tune by tune. Sure, there were masterfully performed covers like Pink Floyd’s “Time”, The Band’s “The Shape I’m In”, and The King of Pop’s “Beat It”, but Greensky truly soars when it plays its originals. The band has timeless, heartfelt tunes, and they sure do know how to play the hell out of them!
To put it simply, Greensky Bluegrass is unique as bands come. As a group that has mastered the art of dynamic change, the duality of sheer power and delicateness exudes from each of its tunes. Throughout the evening, the band raged like a steel train headed for a brilliant disaster of a wreck, and then seemingly out of nowhere, would drop into a spaciously melodic phrase requiring each member to be on the top of their musicianship throughout. The band would then playfully work through the improvised calm with ease, patiently waiting for the moment where it would collectively build on itself for another round of runaway insanity. This rollercoaster effect was prevalent throughout the entire show, and just when I thought I had seen it all, there was the encore…
I spent much of this Wednesday writing and watching videos in remembrance of John Lennon. After a day of reflection, it was perfectly fitting that Greensky’s encore gave tribute to the fallen hero. “A Day in the Life” was its choice, and it was beautiful beyond words. Any member of the audience that knew the lyrics was singing along at the top of their lungs…it was the type of moment we have met briefly before yet dream about having again, an experience that keeps us longing for the possibility that life might offer one more chance for everything to be absolutely right in the world. It was at this point where I lost my dry eyes but gained so much more. Overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted, I left Mac’s Bar as a firm believer in all things Greensky Bluegrass. I’ll be checking them out for many years to come as long as they’ll have me…and I have a strong suspicion that they will.