Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit/Caitlin Rose/James Mathé @ Bowery Ballroom 5.28.11

Photo by WilyBrunette

While Snail was gallivanting at The Gorge getting her Sasquatch! on, I stayed behind to venture into NYC's misplaced August heat at the end of May to represent Cheep & Snail at Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit.

It's no secret I prefer to go to shows in good company but whenever that's not possible, I suck it up, go through the motions until the artist I'm there to see comes on stage. This time it was a little different. Having listened to very little of Johnny's music beforehand-- about 6 songs -- I didn't feel ready for this jelly. I was going mostly on Snail's love for him and my trust of her taste in awesomeness and the hope he would play the songs I knew so vaguely and this made me nervous, a wannabe fan surrounded by superfans can feel terribly lonely. Feeling this way and without Snail's excitement to feed off of, I thought twice about attending all together. However, in the spirit of no regrets and thinking about how awesome it feels to go see someone play with innocent ears and instantly be enamored, I forged ahead in the name of good music!

As expected I couldn't avoid the boredom in between performers. Anxiety crept as I was growing impatient by the minute, particularly when the Dave Grohl appreciation music stopped blaring from the speakers. Surrounded by pretty girls in pretty summer clothes talking to their equally attractive friends or boyfriends I prayed for time to fly and the openers to be a sweet relief from this lonely hell as opposed to fuel the fiery inferno. Thankfully, my prayers were answered.

Sussex Wit keyboardist James Mathé opened the show with a soulful slow jams that would be great to soundtrack a perfect Sunday morning, so chill. His velvety voice reminded me of a more refined Justin Timberlake at his best. Second act Caitlin Rose played country songs about New York City's greatness, a shitty packs of cigarettes and going out on the town and finding a man to love and a man to leave. I was mostly entertained by her sassy banter in between songs. Cursing like a sailor, making fun of herself and joking with the band and the guys in the crowd flirting with her-- she seemed like a dudely dame in her own right and that's always worth approval.

Johnny Flynn hit the stage to the crowd screaming "I love you"s so amped to see the handsome Brit play his brand of folk. Once he and the Sussex Wit began to play I was instantly drawn in, my boredom/lonely anxiety dissipated. My heart pitter-pattered at his multi-instrumental talent, switching from guitar to mandolin to trumpet to fiddle (!!!!) all set, this is always too much. My favorite moment of the night was Johnny's rendition of "The Water" or that-river-song-he-sings-with-Laura Marling as I knew it, with his sister Lillie. It was a thing of goosebump business and tears, their voices were just magical together. At the end the audience, who seemed to be in a state of loving awe all this time, was jolted into movement by "Eyeless in Holloway" and "Tickle Me Pink." Singing at the top of their lungs and dancing, some stomping, others doing the goofy Caucasian bounce it was fun to witness their elation.

There was a 2-song encore "Amazing Love" and "Leftovers" but I missed them driven out by the urgency to free my dogs from their painful bootie prison.

Going into this all anxious and innocent, I left feeling like a proud mama. The band's dynamic was great and I was awed by Johnny's focused and centered performance. He was hoarse, broke a mandolin string, and a cough made him forfeit a whole verse on "Churlish May" only made his work on stage more endearing. his awkward yet appreciative demeanor as the crowd yelled out hyped-up comments and belting his songs back at him was also super adorable.

I missed Snail like heck but thrived on the thought that I'd do it all again, with her, the fires lonely hell extinguished, reveling in Johnny Flynn's awesomeness together.


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