Sunday, February 24, 2008

Last night we saw the Punch Brothers, Chris Thile's post-modern bluegrass band (formerly known as the Tension Mountain Boys and How To Grow A Band) at the Independent in San Francisco.

We saw the same band almost exactly a year ago at the same club. I wrote about it here. Last night's performance was also an amazing show by some of the best pickers alive today, but I enjoyed it less than last year. A large portion of the show was devoted to what Thile describes as a string quintette for bluegrass instruments, "The Blind Leading the Blind". It's an interesting, ambitious piece and particularly praiseworthy in our current anti-intellectual, anti-art pop culture but it serves as more of a showcase of Thile's composing talents. Thile is probably the best mandolin player of all time and has an amazing creativity in his improvisations, as well as an amazing ability to improvise at extreme high speed. That is what I really like to see from his live shows and it was mostly lacking last night.

It was still a great show but hopefully after this tour, his live show will feature more of his hot picking and improvising.

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