Although not a sold-out crowd, there still was a very respectable showing for Joe Pug’s headlining show at the Bowery Ballroom. rtb and I were sitting in a balcony thanks once again to Kenny.
Opening act was Chris Porterfield (Field Report) on dobro – both clean and with lots of effects. All the songs felt dark and heavy but Porterfield was funny and engaging. Porterfield took requests for most of his set and many in the audience were familiar enough with his work to yell out song titles.
Joe Pug came out swinging and never let up. Pug is touring with a full band in support of his new album. rtb and I had forgotten but he did tour with Matt Schuessler (upright bass) and Greg Tuohey (electric guitar) the last time we saw him. New addition is the drummer – I think Pug said Mark Steffan but I’m not sure.
Pug played some new songs, all of which fit nicely in his catalog. We heard older songs like “Messenger” “Nation of Heat” “I Do My Father’s Drugs” and “Call It What You Will,” which had a great solo by Tuohey that brought Pug to his knees. “Speak Plainly, Diana” has a great sing-a-long chorus and I wish Pug had quieted the band so that we could hear the audience. Standout of the night for me was “The Great Despiser.”
Pug joked about his songs being “we all die alone” songs and there was plenty of other humorous banter. His songs are serious but Pug is not. Each time I see him I have a greater appreciation for his way with a lyric and melody and his ease with the audience.
The encore was a little strange. Pug brought Porterfield out to play another slow dark song on acoustic and then Pug’s band came out to perform “Hymn #101.”
By Carene Lydia Lopez