Every time I have seen David Wax Museum in the past it has been an absolute blast. The band’s blend of traditional Mexican instruments and the American folk tradition translates perfectly to its live performances in a highly energetic, joyous fashion that is impossible not to dance to. This is a band that performs with no boundaries, often ending up playing in the audience by the end of the show. Knowing this, I was a little surprised when I showed up to Le Poisson Rouge and found the usually open space in front of the stage covered with tables and chairs. Especially when I found out that the raucous, old-timey band of Brooklynites Spirit Family Reunion was opening.
Thankfully, the seating arrangements didn’t really get in the way. Spirit Family Reunion put on a solid opening set that had the audience stomping its feet and pounding on the tables. Highlights were the countrified barnburner “ When My Name Is Spoken” and the gospel-infused “Leave Your Troubles At The Gate.”
The David Wax Museum opened its set with the emotionally intense song “That’s Not True.” From then on the band switched back and forth from mid-tempo folk tunes to up-tempo, Son Jarocho (traditional Mexican dance music) inspired jams that had Suz Slezak tapping away on the jawbone and David Wax playing the jarana, a small Mexican guitar. Stand-out tunes were “Chuchumbe” and new song “Leopard Girl,” which forced people out of their seats to dance, while songs like “Look What You’ve Done To Me” and “Night Was A Car” were perfect for the seated venue.
As per usual the second half of the performance was all up-tempo songs including “Unfruitful,” which had the band venturing into the audience and performing all over the venue, including on top of the bar and even in the bathroom. We were lucky enough to have the band come together in front of our table for the final part of the song. They also brought out Spirit Family Reunion for a raucous number and performed the hit “Born With A Broken Heart.” For the final song, we moved the tables out of the way and huddled around the band to help sing the classic folk song “Let Me Rest.”