By Christian Hince | February 12, 2024
“Live At The Linda” has been a flagship event series and on-air program for WAMC Northeast Public Radio for years, and on Feb. 2, the venue in partnership with WEXT held its inaugural show for a spin-off edition dedicated to promoting local acts. With a $10 admission, all of this money went towards the three acts performing.
The E-Block performs at WAMC’s The Linda on Feb. 2.
Photo Credit: Christian Hince / The ASP
Headlining the bill was E-Block, a self-proclaimed “alien jazz” collective that has made their name in the capital region over the past couple years starting with appearances at underground venues in Albany. Their dreamy tone and combination of pop and jazz sensibilities have made them an area favorite. While drummer has been a position of turnover for the band, with Aaron Shields currently holding the role, the group’s makeup has been otherwise consistent, with Luke Pascarella on guitar and vocals, James Soren on saxophone, Devin Tetlak on keys, and Daniel Folds on bass.
The set ranges from smooth and psychedelic to loud, aggressive and full of improvisation. Their track “Sunflower” is one of the more easygoing numbers performed at the Linda. If you listen to the band’s recordings, their performance approach on tape is much more pop-structured than what they have to show in-person.
There are plenty of shrieks from Pascarella as he channels a bit of Prince while noodling across the neck of his Stratocaster, as well as winding, rising solos from Soren and Tetlak. It’s entirely emphatic on the group’s jazz background.
While the crowd has no more than 20 or 30 people, the E-Block’s stage presence and distinct R&B and jazz-infused sound drew out a unique level of audience enthusiasm. A group of friends near the stage sings along with Pascarella, obviously familiar with the group. A large man in a fedora twirls across the entire concert hall, making more and more friends as the set goes on. Folds and Shields smile chaotically playing their instruments as they watch their bandmates during solos.
E-Block went on for over an hour, and was hopefully a capitalizing mark for a new program for WAMC, WEXT, and the Linda. The event was hosted by Linda manager Peter Hughes and WEXT Chris Weink, who shared nice moments of banter in between acts.
Also on stage during the night were Barbie Barker of Candy Ambulance and New American Cuisine from Saratoga Springs. Barker, with just herself and her guitar, played tracks that range from slow and moody, channeling the lament of Beth Gibbons from Portishead, towards louder, faster, and more in the punk stylings of Candy Ambulance. She interacts plenty with the crowd while taking sips of wine between songs.
New American Cuisine (NAC) is a two-piece consisting of vocalist and guitarist Bryce North and drummer Henry McCabe. They oscillate between punk, folk, and garage rock over the course of about 40 minutes, never slowing down too much and closing out with a cover of The Strokes’ “Someday.” Despite being a couple of the youngest people in the building, with both other acts being well into their twenties and much of the crowd looking 30 and older, NAC has all the confidence they need.
“Live & Local At The Linda” will be a monthly program, resuming March 1 featuring Embe Esti, Julia Alsarraf, and Sydney Worthley.