A Nameless Trio and The Underscore Orkestra at The Black Swan

I don’t usually go to concerts on weeknights, especially not Tuesdays. In fact, I believe this past Tuesday marked the first time I had ever gone to a show on that night of the week. I probably wouldn’t have gone out if it was just any band, but it was The Underscore Orkestra that was playing, and that’s certainly not just any band… The Underscore Orkestra is, as its name states, an orchestra of sorts. This isn’t your common conductor-driven classical music playing orchestra, however — although those descriptions do apply in their own way to the band. There is a conductor of sorts, Jorge, but I would consider him more of a ringleader. I guess you could say that The Underscore Orkestra is part orchestra, part circus in both their music and live performances, and Jorge is the frontman and driving force of both aspects. The Orkestra is largely a collective of musicians, a rotating cast of characters, but Jorge formed the band over six years ago and is a constant in it. And, like an orchestra, the musicians do play classical music, but classical in the sense of traditional gypsy inspired tunes. The Underscore Orkestra was playing at The Black Swan in Tivoli, NY on Tuesday night and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to see the marvelous band.

Opening for The Underscore Orkestra was the as of yet untitled trio of Kip Beacco on guitar and clarinet, Sara Parrilli on accordion, and Jonathan Talbott on violin. The three musicians play beautiful music that sounds like it comes from the countryside of countries such as France, Hungary, and Romania. The blend of instruments go perfectly together, creating a rich, full sound that leaves nothing missing. The tunes the trio played — mostly band member originals — belong not to earth, but beyond. The atmosphere at the pub was perfect, too: low lights, a crowd clustered around the “stage” (not an actual raised stage, but an area that is designated as a stage and grows or shrinks depending on the number of musicians playing), some people sitting or standing, others dancing… It was a beautiful spring evening, with beautiful music that was both haunting and fulfilling. The music belonged to another world, and I’m grateful that the trio conjured it for the duration of their set.

Playing in The Underscore Orkestra on Tuesday were Jorge on violin and vocals, Willo on accordion and vocals, Joe on electric bass and sousaphone (the latter of which I’m told by Jorge weighs an impressive 32.8 kilograms, and I’ve never seen anyone rock a brass instrument that big like Joe does!) Scott on guitar, Sam on trumpet, and Linzay on drums. The music the Underscore Orkestra plays is raving mad, and it’s fantastic! The band transforms every venue they play — from living rooms, to bars, to dance halls — into a festive party of super-charged, crazy folk tunes. Well, they play achingly sweet waltzes too… In fact, The Underscore Orkestra plays a little bit of everything, including traditional folk songs, swing standards (with their ever so unique twist, of course), and slow, gorgeous instrumentals.Their music is not simply gypsy, however, but punk gypsy. Although The Underscore Orkestra play in a traditional fashion, they also infuse their music with a definite edge. Closing your eyes when you listen is a wonderful way to get lost in the steep tradition that the music is soaked in, as well as the edgy influence it contains, and the sounds the musicians create are largely mysterious and utterly compelling. As with the music of the opening trio, the music of The Underscore Orkestra transports you to a land of dreams where the only thing limiting you is your own imagination. The music the Orkestra creates is a live and pulsing thing, infatuating all who hear. Feet kick, hands clap, heads shake… The infectious energy leaves none out of its wake, and being at an Underscore Orkestra show is a truly invigorating experience. As the music soars to new heights, so does your soul. That sounds overdramatic, I know, but if you heard you would understand. The members of The Underscore Orkestra are not only musicians, but some kind of shamans — modern day punk edged, lyrical, brilliant shamans — and the music they create transcends all time and space.

Video of the untitled trio: Waltz

Video of The Underscore Orkestra: Freilach Van Der Chuppen

Also, check out the Orkestra’s latest project: RevelMe

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