Chris Garneau @ City Winery, 2/19/10

The moment I stepped into lower Manhattan’s City Winery I knew that this would be a fitting venue for the show I was about to experience. The venue boasts a large open space filled with long tables, as well as a bar off to the side and an elevated area in the back with more seating. The space is artistic but mellow and its wood accents paired with dim lighting make it warm and cozy.

Emo-folk singer Chris Garneau was joined on the small stage by a trumpet, trombone, violin, and cello which together created a mini symphony of elaborate and intoxicating sound. The crowd sat still in awe sipping their wine and it was fascinating to see how the performance captured every face in this dark, mellow room. The overall tone was on the somber side and some songs were reminiscent of death including the one that he dedicated to his mother. Some of the highlights of Garneau’s performance were “Baby’s Romance” and the hit from his 2009 sophomore album El Radio “Fireflies.” The breathy ballad “Over and Over” seduced fans with “we’re rockers anyway, just skin and bones/good hair, good clothes/and that’s how it goes.”

The stage was handed over to rocker Joseph Arthur, a musician discovered by Peter Gabriel in the mid-90s, who started with “Echo Park,” a catchy ode to freedom. “Can’t Exist” included an exhilarating electric guitar riff at the end. Chris joined in on the piano for “September Baby” and several other songs including “Honey and the Moon,” a romantic lullaby singing “if you weren’t real I’d make you up.” While most of Arthur’s songs were calm, he impressed with his musical multi-tasking, mixing his vocals with guitar, harmonica, and even pre-recorded guitar riffs which he strategically turned on throughout his set to replace the band he did not have. “Exhausted,” “Black Lexus,” and “She Paints Me Gold” were a few of the last songs in his set that the crowd were all equally enamored with.

Both acts together created a captivating show and made it worth the $14 glasses of wine that were so easy to sip while listening to these intensely lyrical and slow mesmerizing songs.

Kate Hollinger

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