Tonight marked the first night out, in a couple of weeks, that we got to actually see a show together again! We’re both UWS girls so it was inevitable that a Harlem venue was in our near future (we’re coming for you next, Apollo). We headed to the Shrine on Adam Clayton Powell and were lucky to get in before they started charging a cover (which meant more $$ on #dranks). Even though it’s one of the smaller venues we’ve visited – similar to Piano’s or Mercury Lounge – the energy in the room was high and the stage was full. When Crucial Bridge & The I-Nity Band finally took the stage, folks who came for a drink and some late night food, suddenly found themselves dancing in front of the stage to the sounds of reggae. With so many band members (background vocalists, guitarist, bassist, another bassist and drummer), it was hard to not feel overwhelmed by the music. One of the opening songs, “Ballroom Floor” by Bunny Wailer was such a tone-setter (is that term?). With lyrics like, “the music so right, you don’t even care about the dawning,” we were immediately transported to a carefree and music-loving world. Even the instruments washed over us like a wave of relaxation and enjoyment.
Over the last few months, we’ve noticed that when bands are playing sets and venues they’ve played many times over, the crowd can sometimes sense the routine/act of it all. The set tends to feel less organic and more like “just another show.” However, with this band, and more importantly in this venue, the music was the most important factor of the evening. Tonight, we could feel the commitment and need to respect the music from the band (at one point they restarted a song almost three times, just to get it right); the audience wholeheartedly fed off of this energy. This melting pot of music lovers danced around every corner of this bar while Crucial Bridge left the stage and Simone G took over. When the band started Gregory Isaacs’ “Number One” we couldn’t help but move closer. The power of the music and the feel of the night was entirely too captivating to stay away from. We finished the night listening to a smooth rendition of one of Alicia’s favorite Bob Marley songs, “Is This Love” by yet another tambourine-player-turned singer in the band. When we left Shrine, it was pouring rain and as we were hailing a cab for home, we instantly missed the musical island oasis we were just transported to. What a great night…
RCS Takeaway: I was instantly obsessed with all of the records that lined the walls and ceiling in this venue. From Stevie to the Supremes, there wasn’t an empty spot in the room. We were surrounded by vinyl and I was captivated by each one. How did it get there? Who was the original owner? How many of these have I listened to? Can I have them all? My great night was slightly soured at the very end, when a guy roaming around the room asking for band donations (chill) put his full hand in my hair and tried to kiss me (NOT CHILL). ’twasn’t cool.
Alicia’s Takeaway: Sometimes I feel like we are always covering venues on the LES and in Brooklyn, so I was excited to mix up the location and venture somewhere new for CV – that is the point of the blog after all. I’ve always loved listening to reggae music, I have several Bob Marley tapes, yes tapes, and CDs in my collection so I really enjoyed my first time seeing reggae music performed live. One thing I didn’t need was the UES princess that was invited to the stage to sing happy birthday to her UES father. She had a nice voice, but I felt like her yodeling was more for an American Idol audition and less for the crowd at Shrine. Yes, I went there. 😉