Gringo Star on stage at Circus

Gringo Star on stage at Circus

March 30, 2010 – Gringo Star is a four-piece band out of Atlanta, Georgia, featuring Peter Furgiuele, Nicholas Furgiuele, Pete DeLorenzo, and Chris Kaufmann.  They have had moderate success in America playing the 2009 Lollapalooza festival, and have recently been signed by Cargo records in Germany for European release of their debut Album, “All Y’all.” They are about to embark on a European tour.

I came into Circus totally expecting to write a review on a local band, but as the universe would have it, the last local band of the evening was playing their second to last song as I sauntered in. I had high hopes after finding out that this was a touring band from down south that had been asked to play Lollapalooza last year because of course, that’s a pretty big show. I also had read many statements from press they posted on their site that conjured images of mass hysteria on stage with gallivanting and crushing of gnashed teeth. Simply put, this was not the case. In fact the 50 or so people that started out in the place as they were playing dwindled to 15 by the end of their set, and they even finished by midnight on a Tuesday!  But, that might just be Columbus for you.

They started their set with, “Make You Mine,” having vocals, drums, a little guitar, and two guys heaving out some tambourines.  The whole time they were playing I couldn’t shake this feeling of listening to the Zombies (England) from my head, but not even good Zombies. They were just a bit less special, probably because I had already heard the Zombies pull off this style 50 years ago. Now I don’t want to sound like a person who dislikes re-branding of older styles of music, though I feel if you do add some value it is acceptable. I mean, do it better than the original artists did it, otherwise you might just as well play covers of their music and call it a day.

The second song, “Ask Me Why,” picked up the pace and had a fun little southern shuffle on the drums with an awesome guitar hook that made the song. I don’t know if it was just a bad night for whoever was taking lead vocals, but every time there was a single person singing it sounded off and a little out of pitch with the rest of the band. However whenever a second or third set of vocals joined the mix the harmonies were astounding. There were a few more rather unremarkable songs, then they announced that they were going to be playing “Come on Now.” This song seemed to have a false start as it seemed that one of the musicians forgot to start singing, but after they figured that out they started again. It had a 50’s ballad feel with the tempo going all over the place either on purpose or a mistake, who knows? I make particular mention of this song for the bridge, which consisted mostly of ragtime piano and a light shuffle on the drums. I could dig my teeth into this bit of the song but just as I was really getting into it they switched back to the verse and ended the song.

The title track of their recent release, “All Y’all,” left something to be desired as well. In fact for the 45 minutes and ten songs of music I was rather unimpressed. I might have gotten my hopes up based on other people’s statements or the fact that they were “good enough” to go on tour overseas.  I was actually happy that the set was finally over. Someone in the remaining crowd called for “a few more” songs to be played. I was dumbfounded, but seeing as they weren’t tearing down yet I waited to see what they were planning on doing.  To cut the suspense, they decided to play three more songs.

Gringo Star on stage at Circus

Gringo Star on stage at Circus

I was preparing to continue noting the lack of enthusiasm from the band or the song construction which was leaving me wanting more and not in a lets hear more music kind of way. Here’s where everything changed. The music went to a world of fun and peppiness I hadn’t yet heard from these guys. They started playing a song, “Jessica,” which reminded me of Katzenjammer (Oslo, Norway). The chorus, “It’s nice to see yah,” had me singing along on my bar stool. They followed it up with a cover of “Li’l Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. It wasn’t anything unique or amazing, but it hit home.  It was an excellent song you don’t hear too often.  They finished with a song entitled, “Out of My Head.” It was simple and had a splendid energy behind it. I almost wished they could have channeled this energy throughout the whole show. I am glad that I did stick around for these last few songs as they really capped the night well.

Gringo Star can be found on the web: http://www.gringostar.net/. Their latest release, “All Y’all,” is available through iTunes and Amazon.

-V-