Playing to an ecstatic crowd, Junip hit the Royale last night for their first stop on a cross-country tour. An intimate evening of music was the perfect way to spend this cold Boston night.
First up was the relatively unassuming Sharon Van Etten. To date, I had only heard a small sample of her music, specifically her track Don’t Do It. For fans of acoustic guitar singer-songwriters, Van Etten has a great expressive voice and plays a traditional folk style. But on this night, she was backed by a band, plugged in and, as her mom puts it, “rocking out.” Carefully tuning between songs, she seemed a bit nervous with the silence of the room. Song after song, gaining rapport with the crowd, she became more at ease. The crowd loosened, and soon everyone was sold on her talent.
When Junip’s members arrived on stage, the crowd sure did multiply. It got a lot more packed in, and people were chomping at the bit to hear Jose Gonzalez’ smooth vocals and the ambient sounds of his band. Backed by Tobias Winterkorn (keyboards), and Elias Araya (drums), Gonzalez began the set with a single strum of his guitar, opening with Rope & Summit from their new album Fields. Instantly recognizable, the crowd hung on every one of Gonzalez’ gossamer words. The band filled in the sound with atmospheric keyboards and light bongos, and the room came to life. Minutes into their set, Junip’s ability to simply and elegantly layer together latin jazz guitar, electronic keyboards and percussion shone.
The crowd totally ate it up, even with the band’s calm, chill demeanor. Everyone was fully with Junip. The entire crowd swayed and bopped through an hour-long sonic journey capped off by a three-song encore including breakout single, “Chickens.”
Although their success is slightly hinged on Gonzalez’ popularity, these guys put together a sound that is unlike anything out there. Last night was the first stop on their North American tour; they will cross the continent twice, deploying their special brand of electronic and latin-infused folk, and are certainly worth the price of admission.
Check out Junip in your neck of the woods: