Never has there been a bigger elephant in the room than there was on this night. Age, taste, locality… none of it mattered anymore. Due to the events of the day, showing up to Rough Trade NYC had become more of a therapy session and an escape than it was ever intended to be. Whether you were present as talent or an admirer, there was one thing on all of our minds and no words were required.
Thankfully Landlady, and opening act Sexmob, were able to provide those in attendance with a needed distraction and a few appropriate moments of tribute.
Sexmob, a quartet Jazz band, entered like the seasoned veterans they are (recording since ’98) and entertained a muted and reluctant crowd with their brand of tempo-swinging instrumentals. Armed with a slide trumpet and several sound modifiers, Steven Bernstein also brought humor which aided to display the band’s lighter side, and loosen up the crowd a little bit. Kenny Wollesen on the drums became the feature attraction midway through when he emerged from behind his rig holding a gong and mallet. Thought to be a gag, new listeners were surprised to hear him work the gong into the music.
This, and we hadn’t even gotten to Landlady.
Lead singer Adam Schatz, who took in the opener from the front row, set the pace with top notch vocals and a virtual high-wire act between the keyboard and Mick Jagger-esque showmanship. Drummers Ian Chang and Booker Stardrum earned cheers, and a shout out from way in the back, for their ability to merge their sounds while Will Graefe, supported by Ian Davis, ran off an impressive streak of guitar solos.
As far as the individual songs, there wasn’t a missed shot in the entire playlist. Standouts include “The Globe,” and a song performed in the spirit of the evening that on the surface was about being unafraid to dance in public but, held a deeper meaning about daring to be yourself. Sexmob joined Landlady on stage for the last song of the night and there was an overall sense that everyone involved was just happy to be there.