Capping off a long cross-country tour, Bronze Radio Return hit the Mercury Lounge on Saturday to an unexpectedly (on my part) packed and and crazy audience. Halloween costumes were in the minority as the six-piece band brought their brand of bluegrass-pop to the eager crowd just waiting to dance and work up even more of a sweat than the sauna-esque venue already provided.
The band played select songs from their two album discography, foregoing most ballads in favor of their more up-tempo songs, though it didn’t really seem to matter what they played as each song solicited the same reaction: a never-ending wave of “Woooooo!” and fist pumps. Energy was high both on and off the stage to say the least, the band members clearly working hard to put on an entertaining and engaging show.
One thing to note about Bronze Radio Return is that individually they are all exceptional musicians, which was made evident by a series of gut-busting solos towards the end of the set. Guitarist Patrick Fetkowitz showed off some major chops as he ripped a slew of guitar solos that could easily be classified as “face-melters.” And then came a guitar-harmonica battle for the ages, with harm player Craig Struble dolling out some facial damage of his own, totally keeping up with Fetkowitz.
Singer Chris Henderson has a very distinct voice that can be hard to categorize. There is a gruffness to it that’s perfect for the the bluesy songs in the band’s catalog, but it’s often in a higher register that could be compared to someone like Isaac Slade, singer of The Fray. Whatever it is, it’s good on the album and translates even better live.
Bronze Radio also played a couple of new tracks from an album that they have just finished recording in a barn in Virginia. “There’s 15 songs on the album,” said Henderson, “and I figure at least 14 of them are pretty good.”
And of course, what would the night be without a passing reference to the upcoming Frankenstorm? “Do you guys believe this shit?” Henderson shouted. “This one’s going out to Sandy!” And, like Sandy herself, the song that followed was a whirlwind of guitars, banjo, drums, and keys that got everyone jumping. I’ve never felt the floor of the Mercury Lounge buckle quite like that before.
After their main set, the band was corralled back on stage for a quick one-song encore, though I’m sure if there weren’t other bands waiting to get on stage, they would have played all night.