Rustic Overtones returned to Boston on Saturday, November 3 to give Let’s Start a Cult a proper Bean Town record release party. Massachusetts’ capital has always been a second home to the Portland, ME based band and fans flocked to Davis Square to hear the band kick out jams old and new.
The Davis Square Theatre is a relatively new venue in the heart of Somerville, MA. Tucked away in a basement off Elm St., the performance space offers an intimate experience for a show. There is tiered seating, an open floor and a bar in the lobby. The club has potential, but they are clearly still working out the kinks.
Rustic Overtones hit the stage a little before 11 p.m. after a rushed and confusing sound check. The tiny stage could barely hold all of their gear, forcing amps and members to stand on the floor. The group tore into their opener “Combustible” but singer Dave Gutter immediately experienced issues with his mic as he walked into the crowd. Moments of terrible feedback also persisted for the first few songs. The sound guy was either having a really bad night, or was way out of his league trying to mix the complex arrangements of the band’s seven members.
Visually frustrated, the band pushed forward like professionals and gave the crowd and excellent show. Early highlights included “Simply in Love” (the band’s bongo and horn stab remix of their own “Simple Song” and Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”), a killer sax solo from Kyle (Ryan Zoidis’ stand-in for the night) during “Iron Boots,” and the haunting ballad “I Like it Low” off their new album.
Rustic Overtones is a live band in every sense of the word. In recent years they have started experimenting more on stage, extending conventional songs like “Crash Landing” and “Gas on Skin” into percussive jams with tons of tight improvisation.
MVPs of the night had to be stone-faced Mike Taylor on the keys and harmonies and Jason Ward with the baritone sax, flute, and bass clarinet. Taylor’s intense vocals and slick playing brought texture to Gutter’s melodies and Ward’s multi-instrument attack kept the low end rocking on “Carsick” and their cover of Morphine’s “Honey White.”
The Overtones closed their set with “Going Out with a Bang” and it couldn’t have been more fitting. As the crowd sang along with Gutter, the vibe in the room couldn’t have been more perfect. “We’ll never be alone again because we’re your friend,” the room chanted along with their Cult leaders.
The band returned to the stage for a two song encore that was punctuated by the soulful “Feast or Famine” featuring a masterful trombone solo from Dave Noyes. While Rustic’s career has certainly been feast or famine is the past, their future couldn’t be more promising. They have a great new album, are about to start working on the sequel and continue to entertain crowds all throughout New England. Rustic Overtones are not to be missed.