The Hotel Cafe, Los Angeles, California
January 8, 2016
My first live show of 2016 was Jimmy Gnecco’s first night of his Hotel Cafe residency. Jimmy Gnecco is best known for his work as Ours, but this is a solo, acoustic series, just Jimmy and an acoustic guitar. It was the best first show of the year – more than I could have ever hoped for, or expected. Jimmy is amazing, real, raw, genuine, and so fucking talented. He even brought me to tears. Twice.
But let’s back up, shall we, because I would be terribly remiss if I did not mention the amazing opener/co-headliner that Jimmy Gnecco is sharing his January residency with – the incredible band Mount Holly.
I’d never heard of Mount Holly before. Reading that they would be playing with Jimmy, I did try to look them up before heading to the Hotel Cafe, but found little to nothing online about them. I’m kind of glad that I knew nothing though, that I had no preconceived notion of who they were, or how they would sound, because the surprise was so well worth it.
Mount Holly blew my mind.
Singer Jameson Burt is a force of nature, his vocal range spans the musical galaxy of heavy metal screams, the depths of the blues, and what is often so missing from current rock and roll – that raw, raucous passion. Guitarist Nick Perri is an electrical shock of sound and movement, bouncing around, taking his music out into the audience at one point, bringing energy into every moment. Bassist Deanna Passarella is coolness personified, and drummer John Bach kept everything in beat, and helped the music explode through the small venue – in the best way. He even sat in for Jimmy Gnecco’s final song, completely improv-ing on a song that he’d never played before – but more on that later.
Jamson Burt and Nick Perri, of Mount Holly
I will be coming back next Friday to see both Jimmy and Mount Holly, and will write a more extensive review of Mount Holly’s music, and performance. But, for now, I will say that this is a band to watch – and their album, slated to release sometime in 2016, will be one of the best of the year, I predict.
Jameson Burt and John Bach
Jimmy was next on-stage. This was my first time seeing Jimmy perform live, though I have been a fan of Ours for quite some time. I’d recently been listening to his solo album, The Heart, and had been especially loving the song Mystery. At one point during the way too short hour set, Jimmy asked the audience what they’d like to hear next and I yelled out Mystery – which he played. It was so fucking beautiful, and was one of the two times that Jimmy’s singing made me cry.
I hate recording performances with my phone as they always come out terrible, never ever sounding as incredible as the moment is live. That said, I had to record Mystery, and though there was no way to capture how incredible it sounded live, my shitty recording with my phone still came out sounding better than the album track (which is heartbreakingly beautiful, too). His vocal range is beyond belief, the emotion in his singing, the feelings he emanates, and evokes, and the raw, visceral passion that he gives off, is tremendous. I never expected to be this moved.
Here’s a clip of Mystery (I can’t seem to upload it/send a more complete video from my phone).
Jimmy was a delight. I enjoyed his asides, and the things he shared with us about time, the world right now, the difference between touring and recording, and when he asked us what we thought of some of his new songs. Each song was better than the next, and it was obvious that he was shaking off the coils of energy, and possible nerves (or if not nerves, just the warming up of performing) as each song progressed. I think that an hour is not what he’s used to, and I the only downside of the performance was that it only lasted an hour. I would have loved two or three, at least.
Guess that’s why I am going back for another show next week, and may just make it out to all four Fridays (you should, too – buy tickets here – they are only $24!)
My favorite songs of the night, besides Mystery, were Medication, New Wave Heroin, My Love and Murder. The latter, another audience request, had Jimmy asking for a drummer. He looked to all of us, standing and sitting in the Hotel Cafe, to help fill-in. He asked if there were any drummers in the house, a few times, to no avail. But then, John Bach from Mount Holly came up to volunteer. He said he’d heard Murder before, but never played it – but you’d never have known. They sounded great together – and closed the show with so much energy – leaving us ALL wanting more.
I really wish we had had another hour of Jimmy Gnecco. He was INCREDIBLE.
Thank you for the music.