Soulful harmonies boomed through the speakers as Austinites pushed closer to the Mohawk’s outdoor stage. The air was chilly, but The Brook and The Bluff’s tight-knit sound kept the listeners cozy and warm. This Birmingham-born quartet now makes their home in Nashville, and you can hear their sweet Southern influences in every note. Their dreamy Fleetwood Mac covers and floating falsettos had everyone under the spell. But after a leisurely opening set, the crowd was ready for some beaming brass. Ripe definitely delivered.
Seven hyped up musicians stormed the stage, ready to turn The Mohawk into a dance floor. Ripe is composed of guitarists Tory Geismar and Jon Becker, drummer Sampson Hellerman, trumpeter Josh Shpak, trombonist Calvin Barthel, bassist Nadav Shapira, and vocalist Robbie Wulfsohn. Whew. Exhausted yet? You haven’t even started groovin’.
The band kicked things off with “Passerby,” a bouncing soul-influenced number that inspired spontaneous cheers from the crowd. Frontman Robbie Wulfsohn’s voice rang with the warmth and flexibility of a classic blues singer. This, paired with Shpak and Barthel’s tight brass ornmentations, gave their sound a nostalgic quality. It may even remind you a little of (dare I say it?) ska.
Ripe kept the hits rolling, continuing with “Young Tom Rose” and a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop.” The septet even unleashed some new songs for our eardrums, and the crowd took to them like chips to queso.
Even though it was inspired by “an existential crisis held over a salad,” the unreleased track “Low Key” sizzled and popped. I wanted to dive deeper into their new song, “Recent Buddhist.” Was this inspired by a someone they knew? Or is this commentary on all of the fake yogis on Instagram? Either way, I’m intrigued.
Getting back to the Joy In The Wild Unknown album, Ripe launched into “Yesterday’s Clothes.” This time, with the help of an astonishing vocalist named Sally. Her voice resonated with powerful soul, but she never overdid it. She knows she has pipes — why scream it from the rafters? Her glistening riffs slid up and down the scale as she echoed Wulfsohn’s melody line. But my question is, why did she sing just one song? Ripe already has seven members. Why not make it an even eight?
The musicians wrapped up their rollicking one-hour set with “Downward.” And, following the frontman’s advice, the crowd expunged all of their remaining energy in the last few minutes. Sweat dripped from people’s foreheads even as the nippy breezes hit their faces. It was a euphoric endorphin high, and people left with no regrets.
Photos by Craig McGreggor.