Some nights, there is absolutely nothing better than heading to a small concert venue in one of your favorite neighborhoods and being blown away by a band you’ve never heard before. This is what happened at Mercury Lounge on June 3rd at Spanish Gold’s gig.
Spanish Gold is made up of the joined forces of guitarist and singer Dante Schwebel (of Hacienda), guitarist Adrian Quesada (formerly Grupo Fantasma) and My Morning Jacket’s drummer Patrick Hallahan. The band’s debut album South of Nowhere is a wonderful example of funky and soulful rock n’ roll with an old-school feel. Schwebel has described the album as “watching a random hour of MTV programming circa 1986-1996” as it has elements of rock, R&B, soul and pop.
Their recent show had me and the intimate crowd engaged the entire time, which is not something easy to pull off. The thing is, these are all extremely talented musicians who know what they’re doing, and the results are in the music. The album is an exploration of life in South Texas, which is where the band members grew up – most specifically near the Mexican border. When you hear the songs you start imagining a hot day in Laredo, driving in an old Cadillac convertible, smoking American Spirits and drinking tequila.
The show was fun too. Northern Faces, whose EP Southern Faces was released last year, opened for them and did just what any good opening band should do: get the audience excited. The Albany, NY based band is somewhat similar to Spanish Gold in the sense that it also has that true rock and roll sound. And it’s always refreshing to witness a band in its earlier stages because you know they’re truly giving it their all.
Spanish Gold came onstage and it was hard to know where to focus your attention. Schwebel’s voice made it hard to look away from him, but then I’d hear Quesada’s guitar tunes and he’d have my attention, until a drum solo from Hallahan would steal the show. From behind her keyboard, the lovely Silva Belle provided back-up vocals with a little help from Alysse Gafkjen. Though they were difficult to hear in the mix, they had some pretty great dance moves that added to the overall performance. Highlight of the show? When they performed a cover of Bell Bill Devoe’s “Poison;” at that point the audience just lost it.
After an hour and half of a solid performance from beginning to end, I can easily say that Spanish Gold knows how to deliver. These guys may have their individual kick ass projects, but when they are together as Spanish Gold, some really great rock n’ roll happens.
Check out the band performing their single “Out on the Street” on David Letterman: