Friday, March 30, 2012

Franz Nicolay, Kepi Ghoulie, Kevin Seconds @ The Firebird

Ghoulie. Not my photo and not from STL.
Franz Nicolay, Kepi Ghoulie, and Kevin Seconds have never been in a band together. They are three friends on a combined solo tour. This unique combination made for a very interesting show.

Riley James, a St. Louis local, was the opener. Armed with just his acoustic guitar and his voice, he had a classic, singer-songwriter quality about him. He played several originals as well as a wonderful cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Used Cars."

Playing in no particular order, Franz Nicolay (of The Hold Steady) was the first of the three to perform. He alternated between acoustic guitar, banjo, and accordion. His lyrics were very eloquent and carefully chosen. This attitude was reflected in his clothes: nice suit, no tie, black fedora. Nicolay made a point of talking about each song before he played it, giving the audience a better sense of its meaning.

Kepi Ghoulie (of The Groovie Ghoulies) is known for his style of acoustic punk and fun, simple lyrics. This provided a strong contrast from Nicolay's performance. Kevin Seconds also accompanied Kepi with a very small drum set of just one tom and snare. After a three song medley, Kepi let the audience decide the set list. "Come on, what do you guys wanna hear?" Being in St. Louis, he felt obligated to play tribute to Chuck Berry by playing "Memphis, Tennessee." Later on, he was joined by Franz on accordion. The whole set was fast, loud, and acoustic.

Kevin Seconds (of 7 Seconds) was somewhere in between Nicolay and Ghoulie in regards to complexity. He was accompanied by both of them; Ghoulie on drums and Nicolay on accordion and banjo. His big vocals filled the room. Like Kepi, he took many audience requests. Of the three of them, it seemed that Kevin's songs were able to emotionally connect with the audience the most.

A very enjoyable acoustic evening with three very different artists. Although the room was filled with about twenty-five people, they treated it like an arena rock show and gave it their very best.

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