Andy Frasco & The U.N. and Wild Adriatic 3.7.19

Otus Supply
Ferndale, MI

Words, Photos & Video by Jon Rosenberger (PhotoFooFoo)

The first time I saw Andy Frasco and the U.N. was at Electric Forest in 2014. I was on my way from one stage to another taking pictures of various bands for a publication and I was in a hurry. AF+UN were not on my schedule to shoot for the day. AF+UN were not even close to being on my radar at all. I had zero clue whom they were and yet I never made it to whomever I was supposed to go snap pictures of. After 15 seconds of seeing the party unfold there at the Observatory stage in the middle of the forest I was 100% down with that party right there! I have been fortunate enough to have caught them live a few times since and have never ever been disappointed. It’s always a ruckus and in a world of jam bands and bluegrass concertos, sometimes I just love a good ruckus. Something to blow the dust out of the back of your eyeballs and make you go… Uh, what happened? So, it was with some degree of shock that I saw that my favorite local promoter Grand Circus Media had booked Andy and the musical mayhem brothers into the venerable (all cocktails served in real glass) Otus Supply for a weeknight rumble, and I silently gave a visual inspection to the foundations to see if I thought they would sustain the impending fun.

Andy who is the lyricist, lead singer and keyboardist started the band back in LA in 2007 and for the most part has had a consistent cast of melodious cohorts; Mr. Ernie Chang on saxophone who plays like an entire horn section just by himself, Andee Avila back on the drums driving the party train, Chris Lorentz on bass and Shawn Eckels playing the fretboards on electric guitar. Andy and the band just released a new LP a few weeks ago. Change of Pace is the bands third studio effort and features a matured songwriting and perhaps new life outlook from Andy. The songs while still retaining upbeat grooves and R&B swing tackle lyrically more introspective thoughts around; finding love, stopping to smell the roses, personal responsibility and even perseverance on the Rayland Baxter-esque "Somedays." The LP is definitely a “change of pace” from the frantic party at 78 rpm style of their previous works.

Wild Adriatic got things started for the night. They are along as the support act for this entire tour which has already visited Minneapolis, Omaha, St. Louis, Chicago, Louisville and was in Madison, Wisconsin last night before driving the 7 hours here to the Detroit area to play for us. Tour life isn’t for wimps! Wild Adriatic is a four piece band from Saratoga Springs, NY. Wild Adriatic just released and EP with Daniel Rodriguez of Elephant Revival shockingly titled Adriatic\Rodriguez. They are the perfect selection to get the craziness off the line. Travis Gray (guitar) shreds hard almost like a metal head. Mateo Vosganian (drums) lays down a solid time in sync with Frasco’s illegitimate step child Rich Derbyshire on bass. Scott Hanay slides behind the keyboard up front and the band powers through a few before inviting Ernie Chang up for a tune and then Shawn Eckels for the next. Shawn and Travis have a great lil' guit on guit battle and amp up the crowd! The rest of the guys brought their own groovy hard rock funk in for the kill and left the crowd yelling for an encore as they vacated the stage. WA is super fun, they have killer classic rock tunes and a wonderful sense of humor – recommended!

Both bands shared keyboards and drums so there isn’t much changeover before Andy takes the stage with the band and they launch right into the new LP's title track "Pace of Change," no no no its "Change of Pace" but not at the speed they are playing it! Life introspections and deep meaningful lyrics aside the UN are here to party and they leave no doubts as Andy passes around the Jameson. ‘Tween tunes Andy announces to shouts of approval that this is his first visit to Detroit, and he is loving it so far. The UN launch into an amazing cover of Johnny Taylor’s "Who’s Making Love." Ernie really works the sax big time covering all the horn parts from the original ’68 Stax classic just like he were breathing. The crowd pretty much just goes into overdrive right here and it's only the third song. So to top that on the next tune Andy calls "ROTATE" and everyone switches instruments for the entire song. I think every guy onstage played every instrument in the span of about 4 minutes! Seeing Andy on drums and then bass was a hoot, and drummer Andee Avila really can shred on guitar!

The Wild Adriatic en masse join them onstage for the next song and things just go from nuts to insane. The bands look around at one another with everyone noodling some fun song before Travis locks into a riff and everyone's eyes light up. "Can You feel it? It’s ‘the Power of Love!’" The crowd goes complete apeshit as they recognize the old Huey Lewis song that’s so bad it's actually good, especially with everyone locked in tight and the crowd yelling back the chorus to Travis. Andy stalks the stage like a buzz enforcer making sure all the wild get a taste of Ireland's famous from his jamebo bottle. The Wild disembarks the stage but only to the wings as Andy plays the only song of the night that wouldn’t break a metronome and the ladies at the front all tilt their heads just so and gaze up at him adoringly. He joins them in the crowd for the next song remarking “Let’s do this shit Detroit,” but the love songs are over as Ernie steps into the crowd followed by Shawn. Ernie starts honking “Who lets the Dogs Out" for a few bars before Andy calls for Bon Jovi’s "Living On A Prayer" and all the ladies are tilting their heads at him again, but I don’t think the thoughts are adoration anymore.. there goes Andy’s shirt as he quips “I quit doing coke and I got fat…that shit is real” and introduces Ernie as the Asian Tom Cruise before announcing that he wants to play one of the most romantic songs he has ever written. The band launches hard and fast and probably the most seriously I have seen them focus on anything all night straight into Andy’s huge chart bottoming #367 with a bullet hit "Blame It On Da Pussy" as they climb back onstage.

Andy starts taking vape pens from people in the crowd and coughing for comedic effect when he finds out that it isn’t Michigan’s new recreational herb. He gets handed a written request and launches right into that old party favorite "This Land is Your Land" for a few bars before learning that there is a birthday in the house. He invites Jamie (male) up onstage and proceeds to personally give him a lap dance for his birthday while the band plays Whams’ "Careless Whisper" and the entire room hoots and hollers. Pretty much from here on in it's mayhem, band members from both bands are switching on and offstage, a fake birthday "Hava Nagila" session for Andy’s fro headed ‘son’ Rich complete with carried chair and rings of dancers and crowd surfing to the bar for shots, all while music continues but its now a free for all of bachnalia…"Smokn Dope and Rock and Roll" brings the set to a perfunctory close as Andy announces ‘its cold out there just consider this us walking off and coming back’…and then both bands just wail away at the single best cover of Sabbath’s "War Pigs" I have ever heard as I thankfully slide the camera to video and sidle to a better spot to record the next 8 minutes of party. It's amazing, it's perfection and then it slides straight away into a crowd sing along of "Hey Jude" and then like a half a verse of "We’re an American Band" in homage to Flint Michigan’s Grand Funk and it's done, it’s over, the foundation is still standing. I don’t think any glasses were broken, no one was damaged in the making of this night, but hearts were won, smiles were made, burdens were lifted and Andy Frasco, super hero musician of the common man walks off into the night, headed for your town and your party and more than willing to put a smile on your face too. I’d let him!

Jon's Photo Gallery


Popular posts from this blog

Buckethead: Gimmick or Guitar God?

Livetronica Sampler 3.22.11

Billy Strings 4.18.19

Joe Russo's Almost Dead 6.1.24

PREVIEW: Yarmony Music Festival 6.28 - 6.29.24