Food Will Win the War – Rochester – Bug Jar, NY – 2006-05-06

Food Will Win the War
Where: Rochester – Bug Jar, NY.

When: 2006-05-06

I’ve been eagerly anticipating the new album from Hinkley. The Rochester, NY band has teased me at various local shows with new tracks, and I’ve been hearing so many good things. Finally, the band offered its full-length Estate Sale and unveiled its latest line-up at the Bug Jar for its CD release show, and the place was packed in appreciation.

New York City’s Food Will Win the War opened the show with a fun and catchy blend of modern pop and late-80s/early-90s college rock. Few of the songs stuck with me, except for the catchy “Last Night I Dreamt You were with an Astronaut,” but at the time, I was immediately won over by the trio (acoustic guitar/drums/keyboard) and singer Rob Ward’s perfect college rock voice. If this band was recording in the early 90s, it would be a huge hit. As it is, this style should never die out, as evidenced in this quick and fun set.

Next came Gregory Paul, the local singer/songwriter who seems to be the busiest musician in Rochester. I’ve seem Paul play many times, and he always offers something different. Yet I’ve never been so completely wowed by the musician – or nearly any musician – as during his four-song, 30-minute set.

Accompanied only by a violinist, Paul offered a dose of songs that made astoundingly beautiful use of effects pedals. His singer/songwriter material became some of the most lush and lovely songs I’ve heard in ages, and I found myself closing my eyes as they spiraled out, accompanied by just the right amount of echo applied to Paul’s Buckley-esque voice. While Paul’s always shown affection for the effects and layered style (see his band the Autumndivers), his solo work, which is more traditional singer/songwriter material on album, came across in that vein astoundingly well. Perhaps the only fault was that it slowed down the night before Hinkley took the stage. But you won’t hear me complaining. It was truly a beautiful sound, and I hope he brings the violinist back for future shows or recordings.

Hinkley took a while to set up, dealing with a blown amp and fitting six musicians on the Bug Jar’s stage. Greg Paul stayed on, taking his place as a new member of the band, and he mostly contributed backing acoustic guitar or banjo as well as backing vocals to the songs. His addition rounded out the sound beautifully, again reinforcing why I’m convinced Hinkley is the best local band and one of my current favorite bands.

Featuring a nice mix of old songs (like the catchy “Queen of May), tracks from Estate Sale, and even newer tracks, the band rolled through a set that perfectly showed off its unique approach. At times catchy and poppy, at times quieter and sweet, at times bouncing country-esque, Hinkley pulled off each track. On the Bug Jar’s stage, the band’s faster songs always seem to come off better, perhaps due to the venue’s sound system, and I was smitten with tracks like the retro-pop “Party on the Sun” and the indie-pop “Memory in My Heart.”

The band seemed truly grateful for a packed house, as it should be when local favorites release their long-awaited and –anticipated new album. It was clear most of the crowd was familiar with some of these songs and excited to hear new tracks played for the first time as well as how Gregory Paul would compliment their sound. In the end, it was a big success, and I hope it marks the beginning for some touring to bring the band some much-needed exposure.