San Fermin at Paradise Rock Club, 4.14.16

By Cody Kenner

If there’s any band that should be on your live concert radar, it’s San Fermin. Touring steadily over the past few months with singer-songwriter Esme Patterson, the band made its latest stop at Paradise Rock Club on Thursday, April 14.

The opening act, Esme Patterson, was a Courtney Barnett type, who brought her own unique sense of laid-back humor and congenial charm to the stage. Patterson kicked off the concert with a series of rowdy and heartfelt alt-country songs about bad relationships and female emancipation. A series of numbers that responded to several classic rock and country songs, including The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” were particularly compelling. When the final twangs of Patterson’s guitar rang out, one couldn’t help but immediately miss her warm, summery spirit.

The void of her absence was quickly filled by the baroque, brassy, booming sounds of San Fermin. The band immediately captured the audience’s attention by opening with the sweeping, crescendoing “Renaissance!” Throughout the concert, the nine-piece ensemble reached, bent, and jumped around the stage, fully immersed in their sprawling music. The performance felt like a classical ensemble in rock trappings. Audience members clapped along to Rebekah Durham’s violin solo, and cheered as trumpeter John Brandon improvised his own notes in the midst of the audience. At one point, Brandon, still in the audience, and saxophonist Stephen Chen went face to face in a saxophone-trumpet jam session, sending the audience into ecstatic cheers. The Charlene Kaye’s vocals elicited a similar response. Her voice, capable of belting with perfect precision and swelling with impressive magnitude, sent shivers down the spine, and once left the venue completely silent. Complementing her voice was the rich, deep sound of Allen Tate, whose own effortless vocals reverberated in one’s bones.

As the concert came to a close, the crowd cheered and applauded wildly. After leaving the stage, the band returned once more, putting a cap onto the night with the chilling “Methuselah,” followed by their bright, up-tempo rendition of The Strokes’ “Heart In A Cage.” In the end, the concert could not have progressed more perfectly, and the ensemble could not have performed with more virtuosity. San Fermin’s live performance excels in every way one could wish of a concert, and makes for a truly unforgettable experience.

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