LIVE REVIEW: Junip @ Rickshaw Stop 6/18/10
For a show that was still selling tickets at the door, the ever-too-humid Rickshaw Stop was packed wall to wall, floor to ceiling with people Friday night. No matter how he’s presented, straight up or with a band kicker, the kids will turn out for JosÃ© GonzÃ¡lez. It may have been the Swedish/Argentinian singer-songwriter that brought the fans out, but this was not the typical solo show we have become accustomed to seeing from GonzÃ¡lez. This was some full band action: Junip was the evening’s main course, and lucky us, it was their first ever show in San Francisco.
Junip has actually been in existence for quite some time, releasing their first EP Black Refuge in 2005, but the band went on hiatus when GonzÃ¡lez’s solo career took off. Once the band took the stage it did not take much convincing to prove that this was much more than a backing band for GonzÃ¡lez. The band was tight, each member producing a unique and exciting sound while enhancing the rest of the instruments. Drummer Elias Araya kept the tempo mellow yet dancable with a worldly rhythm bringing a Latin jazz feel to each song. The keyboard work of Tobias Winterkorn is a driving force of the band injecting rich, sonic ambiance to the set with euro-pop sensibility. Another percussionist accompanied the band playing everything from bongos to shakers to chimes, often bringing even more of a worldly, Latin feel to the songs. It was all complimented nicely by the solid strumming base filling out the sound with a steady drone. GonzÃ¡lez brought his soft, sparse, velvety vocals that felt right at home with the rest of the band.
They kicked off the show with their most buzzed about song “Rope and Summit,” giving the fans what they wanted early and then hitting them with a set comprised of mostly new songs from their upcoming debut full length. It was fun to hear the band play some new songs. It seemed that this tour may have been a practice run before the album is released in September which, judging from the crowd reaction, will be well received.
The only issue with the show was that every member of the band was seated the entire time. It gave a great intimate feel to the show, but if you were not fortunate enough to be within a few feet of the stage, getting to actually see the band was not a luxury you were afforded.
Junip was very comfortable and confident giving the impression that this may be more than just a side project. Unfortunately, there’s only one last US tour date and then the band is off to Europe. But with an album on the horizon it’s safe to assume the band will be back again soon. In the mean time you can download “Black Refuge” for free on the bands website www.junip.net.