Review of live perfomance - Felice Brothers at Fairfield Theatre Company - SOLD OUT, Fairfield, CT, February 5, 2010 - by Thomas D. Havard
Corina and I left the boys with Andrea and Joe and headed to Fairfield Theatre Company to see a sold out Felice Brothers show. Although I had originally purchased seats in the 4th row center, we later received a disappointing email stating that the performance had been changed to a general admission show. Maybe the venue wasn't sure who they had booked when they started selling tickets. We got there a little early and waited outside in the cold in order to get decent seats. We ended up 5th row in the center, although the 1st 3 rows of seats had been removed, making room for standing youngsters and late arrivals. So everybody had to stand for the entire show in order to see over the people standing in the front. No problem, really. As it turned out they really aren't a sit down kind of band.
Let me say now that you have to see The Felice Brothers. They are unprofessional in the best way possible. The show started over 30 minutes late with James Felice walking on carrying a bottle of whiskey and playing a haunting riff on the keyboard, with the other members gradually arriving and joining in. The bottle was consumed throughout the show and empty at the end. Bassist Christmas and guitarist/lead singer Ian Felice would periodically turn their back to the audience to tinker with a small keyboard/sythesizer deal perched on top of an amp to create cool sound effects. James Felice spent a decent part of the show seated on the floor of the stage trying to fix his accordion by duct taping it back together. Songs often started with one musician, with other band members joining and leaving at random intervals.
Whether by design or luck, the music is raggedly beautiful. These guys are paying a lot more attention than they let on. Keyboard chords often clash with other instruments, adding kind of a barhouse, psychedelic element. Greg Farley's violin is melodic but raspy. Maybe he had to back off from classical training to get it that way. Ian Felice's vocals are rough, a perfect delivery for the stark, down and out lyrics. The songs are depressing, but presented in a desperate, passionate way that evokes more joy than sadness.
The Felice Brothers played for a little under 2 hours. During "Penn Station", the final encore, drummer Dave jumped on James' back, trying to tackle him, but only getting spun around wildly. Greg dove headfirst into the drum kit. They all staggered off. Cool stuff. We got the boys home by 10:20.