January 29, 2012

Rubblebucket Grooves at Castaways

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A long line amassed outside Castaways Thursday evening as electronic and indie music fans withstood cold drizzles in queue to catch the indie-dance Brooklyn-based Rubblebucket’s return performance at the downtown Ithaca venue, in full support of their latest record Omega La La.

Castaways filled up relatively quickly; the venue packed tight with an assortment of fans by 10 p.m.   Eager fans waited by the stage and the vibe was of controlled anticipation. Unfortunately, the show did not start on time, and many fans constantly found themselves at the bar prior to the bland opening act even getting on stage.

Rubblebucket’s roots lay here in Ithaca, where it has not only performed several shows within the last couple of years, but also draws connection to local reggae group John Brown’s Body.  Both singer-saxophonist Kalmia Traver and trumpeter-bandleader Alex Toth joined John Brown’s Body in 2006, only to spin off a year later as Rubblebucket Orchestra — a lively fusion of indie pop, afrobeat, dub and brass, with a penchant for fun sing-along lyrics and melodies.

Rubblebucket’s fan base has clearly evolved in Ithaca, from a once indie dance-pop crowd to an eager electronic music crowd with a heady air to them. Hoola-hoops, dreads, Christmas lights and a tinge of cigarettes and green smoke filled the space, bouncing in synchrony with colorful blasts of brass and the group’s harmonic vocal hooks. The crowd was clearly familiar with Exscape and Spin Magazine.

The band was wonderfully tight and high in spirit but, unfortunately, the overall sound often felt muddled due in part to the acoustics of the space. An outdoor venue definitely matches their style better. But sure enough, the audience kept along in its pleasurable essence, singing and dancing along to crowd-favorites, like the classic “Bikes” from their self-titled debut record and their latest tracks “Silly Fathers” and the lost-but-now-found love song, “Came Out of a Lady,” complete with all the band’s silly antics and upbeat brass explorations.

On the whole, Rubblebucket provided an absolutely entertaining night for everyone.  Its latest blend of indie pop, electronic and dub is surely catching on with a wider audience, paving its way for — I hope — bigger and better shows around the Cornell and Ithaca community. Anticipation is already chiming for the band’s return.

Original Author: Justin Zupnick