Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Ryan Montbleau Band @ Bowery Ballroom 12/27/08
A couple weeks ago, I attended the Ryan Montbleau Band's show at the Bowery Ballroom. I believe this was Ryan's first time headlining the venue, no small feat. I had caught Ryan during an intimate acoustic show a few months back, but hadn't seen him with a full band in a few years so I was pretty excited. That week between the holidays can be a tough one for getting people out to shows, but I was impressed by the enthusiastic crowd that showed up for this one.
I think I've noted this previously, but Ryan and I were classmates in college at Villanova University outside Philly. I didn't know him well during our years there but we had some mutual friends and I would see him around the area playing his guitar. What I didn't know until after I graduated, was that not only is he a gifted musician, but he has a really good voice. It's one of those voices that just has a real nice flow to it, doesn't seem forced at all....really smooth.
If you've read other reviews about the band, it seems like the group get lumped in with a lot of jam bands, which I don't completely disagree with, but at the same time I think they have their own unique style. I find that many of the bands that jam out a lot can sometimes actually take away from some of their songs, almost like there's no roadmap for where they're going. Even though the Ryan Montbleau Band does jam a fair amount, I feel like you know that they're on the same page, headed in one direction. Watching the show you come away with a polished feeling, like they're always in control.
Another thing that stands out is that Ryan seems to have a subtle confidence as the lead, you don't sense that he's ever trying to upstage the other band members and still tries to blend in as "one of the guys". It helps that the other band members are definitely a talented bunch and you can see that the guys enjoy playing together. Simply put, they're just a tight, cohesive group, you sense that they've been doing this together for quite awhile.
Over the last few years I've gotten to know Ryan a bit and I really think he's one of the "good guys" out there trying to make it. The guy (and his crew) work their tails off, constantly touring in and out of the country. I see a lot of shows and feel like he's got the right combination of a strong work ethic and a gratitude to the people that come out and see the band. In my opinion, he's definitely got "the stuff", just needs the right break. If you get a chance, go out and see his show when he comes to town, I think you'll walk away impressed.
Here's a video I took:
Here's a couple more pictures I took at the show: