Damien Jurado, Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground @ Littlefield, 6/18/2010
A valid 21+ ID and $12 granted fans access to the dark little room in the back of Park Slope’s Littlefield where more fans were standing around, and a small bar was serving $3 Bud lights (among other beers) last Friday night.
Lead singer Kirk Huffman and friends from Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground were parked in a van outside that one can only surmise had been driven Kesey-cross-country from Seattle. Most people in the audience had probably shown up, not to see Kay Kay or opening act Brooklyn’s own The Loom (of which keyboardist and percussionist Sarah Renfro had great vocals), but to see headliner Damien Jurado.
Regardless, I was there to see Kay Kay. Huffman was magnetic from the get-go in his thick-rimmed glasses, T-shirt, rolled up jeans, and playing a red hollow-body guitar. Their music is whimsical, but Huffman’s voice is impressive. He has an amazing range and a stage-presence that could make him famous. Onstage, there were horns, drums, keys, guitars and a melodica. Put another way: there were a lot of people in the band. The guitar player was frantic and dramatic, but good. The horn section was a bit distracting, and all the instruments sounded chaotic at times. The band’s new music was maybe better than their old stuff. They played “Oh Motherfuckers,” a bluesy rock number that showed off the violinists’ abilities, and “Swan Ink,” which had a fun poppy vibe that was also a welcome addition to their set.
Closing the evening was singer-songwriter Damien Jurado. Seated for his performance, Jurado sounded a bit like a Mason Jennings/Neil Young mix. His soul-felt singing and acoustic strumming melded well together, and his presence was emotion-filled and intimate. He played the beginning of his set with some of the musicians from Kay Kay and seemed disappointed there was a time-restraint on his performance. He said he had anticipated playing more songs solo, and when he was given the chance to play a couple more (including the moody “Sheets”), the audience cheered him on.