Rubblebucket Close Out Tour at Home in Brooklyn with a Big Dose of F-U-N
March 27, 2023
Rubblebucket – Brooklyn Steel – March 25, 2023
Sometimes the word concert doesn’t quite cut it. After consulting a thesaurus, one might describe the Rubblebucket show at Brooklyn Steel on Saturday night as somewhere between a spectacle and a wing-ding. Kicked off by frontwoman Kalmia Traver warning the audience to “get ready for a wild ride,” the 100-minute set was an explosion of color and sound, with confectionery lights the shade of every jelly bean in the jar and grooves that had even the most stoic wallflowers in the back of the room moving along. On-the-fly wardrobe changes, choreographed dance moves, horn rave-ups played from the thick of the crowd and triumphant full-house sing-alongs elevated the night to full-on hootenanny.
A large chunk of the set list came from Earth Worship, released last fall, beginning with the title track. Wearing a coned cap that was either fit for a wizard or a proverbial dunce, Traver strutted across the stage bathed in green lights singing, “I would like us to break up these patterns,” Rubblebucket coconspirator Alex Toth and Sean Smith adding trumpets when she switched to baritone saxophone, indie rock turning to ska-funk on a dime. “Morning in the Sun” quickly established the blink-and-you’ll-miss-something nature of the night with synchronized hopping, misbehaving grooves and unexpected turns. The energy onstage was infectious and quickly permeated the audience. “Cherry Blossom” had the band wearing psychedelic floral headpieces and everyone in the packed room hopping around on command to its catchy hook. Traver singing, “I woke up in a pile / Made of my own smile” on “Sweet Spot” was just one of many strains of positivity — Toth’s breakdown leading to a big horn vamp that would’ve been the huge closer for most bands but was Rubblebucket just getting started on a Saturday night.
It wouldn’t be a proper shindig without friends, Sammy Rae coming out to sing backup vocals on “Melt Through the Floors,” Traver playing flute and then hopping into the audience. Later, Caroline Rose appeared, joining everyone in donning a tutu for “Came Out of a Lady,” the crowd going full pogo, the lights in full pastel rainbow and the mood turning full jubilance. The friends were mostly the band members, though, each taking lead throughout the night, Ryan Dugre alternating between groove rhythms and electrifying solos, bassist Steven Baker filling the room with a low end that guided the band’s here-and-there whiplash and drummer Rebecca Lasaponaro providing the beats to kept everyone moving. The extended encore ended with Rubblebucket marching through the crowd, horns ablaze, jamming on the “Cherry Blossom” theme, then Toth leading a chant-along through a megaphone from the back of the room, the hepped-up audience still all-in on playing along — and me consulting my thesaurus again, looking up synonyms for fun. —A. Stein | @Neddyo