As if there were any lingering doubt, even the calendar now confirms that Rocktober is officially here. What better way to confirm the season than a show by José González at Variety Playhouse, with none other than our old friends Luluc opening?
"Old friends" - we've seen Luluc perform once before, back when they opened for J Mascis at Terminal West during Rocktober 2014. They were great then, and they sounded just as great last night - a sublime start to an enchanting evening.
Of course, headliner José González, playing his streams of mesmerizing music, made everyone forget not only the openers but at times their own names.
We've seen José perform before as Junip, once at Terminal West and once at The Earl (with Sharon Van Jones opening and joining him on a cover of U2's With Or Without You!) but never before on his own. Last night, José performed his own songs, including several from his excellent new album Vestiges and Claws, as well as several Junip songs, such as Walking Lightly.
To be honest, there isn't too much difference between a Junip set and a José González set - in both settings, the band lines up in a semi-circle behind José, and in both cases the band includes keyboardist Barbarosa (who got a chance to sing one of his own songs last night during José's set). Perhaps the most notable difference is Junip includes more electronic instrumentation, while José's band relies more on analog percussion and guitars. But either way, there's a pleasingly similarity to their sounds.
I arrived at the Variety about 10 before 8:00, but still managed to get a front-row spot right up against the stage. The place did seem to fill up behind me as the evening progressed, although I managed to keep my stage-front spot.
Here's the set list:
Bonus points for only two bands on the bill and a prompt 8:00 pm start time, meaning I got home before 11:00 pm on a weeknight.