Evanston isn't the most easily accessed part of Chicagoland, and thus a visit to its "newish" club SPACE has been on The Barn's to-do list for some time. From the beginning their booking has been tremendous, but it took an appearance by Anders Osborne to make the stars align for coverage of an event at this unique venue.
First, a few words about the experience here. The crowd skewed older than expected. Picture a floor with tables on the side, maybe 20 on each. Almost all of those tables were filled with greying, suburban-looking patrons -- sort of odd, and somewhat unexpected -- like a Kiwanis Club meeting was interrupted by a rock concert. The middle of the room from front to back was standing room, about ten people wide. The room is very nice, but I'd be disappointed if I'd paid 2 times GA price for a table only to have people standing in front of me blocking my view.
Osborne emerged in a tie-dye T-shirt and a guitar and started to knock out some fierce soul-infused blues riffs over a
foundation set by his bandmates, Eric Bolivar on drums and Carl Dufrene on bass. It is a powerful, almost overwhelming sound, the kind of thing that leaves you trembling even after you leave the room. Even without being familiar with much of the material, it made a decided impact.
A reggae flavored number, "Ya Ya" was broken down into a series of soaring guitar riffs -- truly magnificent and transcendent. "One Man, One Woman" dissolved into a liquid, psychedelic space, where Osborne donned reading glasses and started to read poetry off his iPad, before charging back into the tune's main lick. Everything was jammed out with extended soloing, showcasing the considerable chemistry within the band, especially "Pleasin' You", "Guilded Splinters" and "Got Your Heart" which had to be the standout, soaring jam of the night. The set also showcased a few tracks from the recently released album Black Eye Galaxy, including "Black Tar" and "Send Me A Friend".
Osborne's Open D tuning is a spectacle. Throughout the night, he played with a capo to shorten the strings, but his tone seared with an unholy ferocity. It comes into your spine and reverberates mercilessly, especially within the confines of SPACE's intimate surroundings. That said, it was really loud; this act could have really been something outdoors, where there was nothing to contain the sound.
That's exactly where he ended up a few days later, just south of here in Chillicothe at the Summer Camp Festival. Check it.